Select Page

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?