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Plug N 4 Noise

It’s Saturday. This morning Lonnie got up really early and headed over to his son’s house. They are going to stain his new deck. It is going to be average temperature for this time of year, so we are looking at 105 degrees, so he wanted to get done before noon.

I had a great intention (didn’t set it strong enough apparently) to sleep in this morning. I asked him to try and be quiet when he got up at 530AM. He was. However…no good. I got up too and did a few things around the house and headed to the Temple for light bulbs and then to the nursery for plants, mulch, and some soil. It is now 930AM and I am all done with my gardening chores.

Most of the time Lonnie and I are both here at the house. It is on these frequent days I sometimes get an underlying feeling of irritation. And even more irritating was I didn’t know why.  Well, this morning it came to me:  Noise.

Not so much that Lonnie is a loud guy, I have to say huhhh??? a lot when he speaks, it is not his voice. It is the stuff he does. Even in the office which is half a house away from his garage, the house fills with the noise of his wood focused hobby.  The radio station (70’s Rock), saws, sanders, grinders, power nailers…just about all his tools has a plug and when used creates a very loud nerve grating noise. Lunch time brings the TV News at Noon and non-muted commercials in the front room right next to my office.  After about 45 minutes, he heads back to the garage for more power tooling.

When he went to his brother’s house, he got some ancient wood boards. The pieces were recovered from the side of an old barn so they were filled with nails, staples and the stuff 100 years of people have posted on it. Before he could work with the pieces, he had to find and remove all metal. This meant a new power tool.

After a few days of anticipation, the metal detector arrived via Amazon. He ripped open the box like a kid jacked up on hot chocolate on Christmas morning, loaded the batteries and immediately searched for metal through out the house. He ran the dogs in circles and finally outside with the loud Beep-Beep that emitted each time he put it close to their dog tags, Chessie (the cat) headed under the bed (our cats have ID tags too)  and Smoke kept on sleeping…she is deaf and wasn’t annoyed.  The term “boys and their toys” came to mind and to my lips said out loud over the electronic tones. However, not deterred, he kept searching for hidden metal.  I heard Beep-Beep for another 20 minutes loudest right behind me to a bit more muffled in the far corners of the closets.  Every wall stud was located. Soon the novelty must have worn off and he went outside to remove the bits of old fasteners from the century old cedar.  He is using this old side of a barn for a special surprise for our grand daughter.

Once the Beep-Beep was over, then the worst of it came without warning, the most deafening noise I ever heard was emanating from the garage. He was running the warped planks through his power planer.  What a racket! Since the wood was severely cupped, each piece had to go through several times. Yikes, Excedrin here I come.

So this morning I am enjoying the peace in the house. The only noise right now is the ceiling fan whirling above me. It is old and the motor has a funny slight tinging noise every few seconds. I find it soothing. Also, I can hear the clicking of the keyboard as I type. The only other sound is Chessie constantly purring and occasionally interrupting with a hushed mew asking for her favorite kitty treats.

I don’t really like noise in the house. I rarely play the TV or stereo when alone. Sometimes I get in the mood to rock n’ roll. But, I prefer the quiet.  That’s why I think I do better working from home.  I can focus without the background noise of an office atmosphere. Not that I am claiming to be some type of heavy thinker or anything…it must come from all my years of working around trains and equipment.

Let’s just turn off the noise and be quiet!

Anyway, I am not exaggerating about the power tool use. Our electric bill came yesterday and it is $30 higher this year than the same time last year…he says it is the air conditioner.  It isn’t.

So, now that I know the source of my irritation, I will work on releasing the frustration. His power tools do a lot of good for our family, friends, home and community. Most of all they do a lot of good for Lonnie.

Sac O Tomatoes

here is an episode or two of the TV show Thirty Rock where Liz is contemplating following the man she loves on a move to Cincinnati.  She is reluctant because it is not New York. She treks to Ohio and discovers with her talents and looks she is an instant star and even a sought after fashion model.

That is kinda what happened to me here in this Northern California valley community. Well…not the model or star part…but the recognition of talent that I didn’t even know I had.

The Sacramento area is not where I wanted to end up. I guess I don’t know if I am ending up here…I am only 57. However here I type in an adorable little house just a mile or so from one of the largest railroad yards west of the Mississippi.

Today it is predicted to be 108 degrees at 6pm, going to be that hot until Saturday. I hate this. Also, that Sacramento doesn’t have a great reputation of a big important city…although it is California’s State Capitol. Maybe it is our Lt Governor’s now infamous quote: “It’s just so dull.” He openly admits he spends the majority of his time in his home town of San Francisco…a dream of mine: To live and be able to afford a home and life in “The City.”

I came to the area from Santa Cruz (cool Summer Marine Layer) with a two year side trip in Burlingame (more cool weather) before coming up here for my real job and affordable housing. I know heat. I lived in Arizona and the Southern California desert town of Indio. I just don’t like it. I feel slow and stupid when the mercury ticks above 90 degrees. It is hard to get anything done while sweating. I lived in Tucson…which is a very cool place except for the heat.  It would be a crazy crowded town if the weather was less brutal.

But, here in this area with no more formal higher education than a high school diploma, I am a magazine writer. And even get PAID well for it!  Stories based on my adventures here have been published on a national magazine’s website, and I have been published in a national anthology of stories. I have been included in our local PBS station KVIE locally produced “Viewfinder” series  twice and did an on-air 60 second spot for them for the local PBS “My Source” campaign that was picked up by the national PBS website…it is still available on-line. I think it occasionally shows on air and although I watch our station KVIE a lot… I have only seen it once…the guys at work say they see it. Also, KVIE used my written testimonial and photo for a few months to solicit donations through a series of mailings.

So, here I am. My talents known where they wouldn’t have been even tested in a larger market. I am ecstatic.  Not only do I have a lovely home, a loving husband, a bunch of crazy fur children, but I have a cool second career as a writer. And this just isn’t a fly by night thing; I am celebrating my 5th year contributing to the Style Magazine family of publications.

There is something fun and rewarding about interviewing and writing a good story about deserving non-profits, great artists, doctors, lawyers, newlyweds and so many others.  It keeps me grounded and with my “day” job that is very necessary. I consistently find people that are happy, up beat and really happy to speak to me.

So I may hate the outside heat, but the inside heat generated within my heart of my finally recognized talent is keeping me happy in a very cool place.

Lonnie Do

porch-railingPorch railing almost done.

When Lonnie was working for the railroad, he had limited days off. And even on his days off…he was usually on.  He took phone calls and was always on call if there was a catastrophic emergency.  It was truly amazing how he could evaporate no matter what was happening here at home.  That is just his work ethic…one of his personality traits I find so attractive…and that he is so darn cute!  He enjoyed his work and it wasn’t a big deal if someone interrupted a rest day. He was just happy to be of service.

We have a cute little house. But, for such a little house it needs a lot of work. Actually tweaking and shoring up.  It probably doesn’t need as much as it gets, but as Lonnie once said, “We are going make this place stink’n cute.” And we (I am taking some credit: 10%) have. Lonnie has poured his vacations, rest days, and precious few hours off on work days into our home. It truly is a showplace. These aren’t exactly “honey dos” they are “Lonnie dos” since I would have never considered half of the projects he envisions or takes on.

Before he retired and since time to complete projects was limited or could be interrupted for the next derailment or personal injury, he would approach any home improvement project like a job. So, once the project was agreed upon…we would approach it as a full time job.

“We’re burning daylight.” He would quote John Wayne as he threw back the covers of the warm bed even if it was still dark outside. “Come on, we’ve got to go to The Temple and get our lumber or bricks or tile or cement or paint.” That would be about 6am. Once we had breakfast, off we would start and then stop only at 12noon for lunch and then he would excuse me at 5pm so I could start dinner. Not that I could help that much with the project except for bringing out my Visa card or tearing something apart.  I am great at destruction…just not construction to his standards.

Now 95 days into retirement, he still works this way. It was the 4th of July yesterday and I was joining the kids next door to walk down to the Roseville Independence Day Parade. It is always a fun one. Not for anything grand…it is just so typically small town USA.  You really expect to see Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Fife in the squad car cruising down the main street.

Lonnie had his mind set on building a replacement railing for the porch.  He tore the old one down…although it was a bit rotten…it was still strong and standing. See what I mean, he has to replace when I would have patched and refaced.

The parade is always short and cute. It usually lasts about an hour and that is always because of some timing issues and a bottleneck at the end. On average about 50 entries and that includes (just like in the Bullwinkle cartoons) the street sweeper at the end. “Let’s go with the kids, it won’t be too long.” I needled him to come along. It is a five minute walk and just a fun respite in the shade for a bit of what was going to be a very hot day.

“Nope.” He said as he whipped out his tape measure and bent is just so to get the perfect measurement. “Got to build the railing today.” I know best not to object to strenuously.  He is building something to make our house cute and safe. “Are you sure,” I mildly protested, “It will just be an hour or so.” I got the look: the look that says back off. “Nope, I am doing this today.”

The parade sans Lonnie was fun and he would have enjoyed the old cars and just the silliness of some of the participants. There was a donkey dressed like Uncle Sam.  He and his handler were pretty hilarious. The woman leading him, dressed like a minuteman, asked us all the clap and cheer…since the donkey liked it.  We obliged. He did and made a tight circle turn and dipped his head to acknowledge our cheers. Prompting another enthusiastic round of whistles and shouting.

We got back to the house about an hour and a half later. Lonnie was busy priming the lumber for the railing and had already put up the side wood to attach it to. We regaled him with a full report of the festivities and as he listened and acknowledged our stories, he kept painting. You could tell he was half listening and half thinking about the railing.

My point here is: when will he feel comfortable enough to stop doing things at full speed?  I must admit he has embraced sleeping in. It is nearly 8am and he is still out with a thankful cat curled up behind his knees.  Saturday, it took sizzling bacon to get him out of bed.  Hey, this is a work day for me…no full breakfast for him!

After so many days without 24/7 manager responsibilities I would have hoped he could relax and take a project one board at a time. American author Greg Anderson said, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

When will he be able to just journey and not hurry to the end?