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  • 10/13/2018 Last week I looked back on our longtime handyman who became a good friend. When he passed in 2005 of cancer, I wrote this:
    I once told Steve he was the greatest handyman east of the Mississippi. Steve said he could easily be the best handyman west of the Mississippi, also. I think he considered moving to Utah just to prove his point.
    Steve’s approach to fixing things was methodical. He would analyze the problem, list the options, mull over the alternatives, formulate a plan, and fix the broken item.
    Here’s how I would approach the issue: analyze the problem, list the options, mull over the alternatives, formulate a plan, and call Steve. As you can see, our approaches were almost identical.
  • 10/6/2018 We have a great fix-it guy. His name is Randy. If your name is Randy, there is some kind of unwritten law that you must become a handyman. Handy Randy has a lot to live up to. Our last handyman died 13 years ago this month.  It’s taken us that long to find a replacement for Steve. And a replacement for the missing hallway floor tile, and the bathroom faucet handle, and the bulb for the refrigerator.
    Here’s a memory of Steve from 2005.
    When Steve comes over, we sit and chat about his kids and his grandkids. Then he gets around to his infirmities and then his wife's cousins who are overstaying their visit. Then what's new at the temple. And finally, how things are going at his regular job—which, interestingly, is just talking to people on the phone about their problems. And he's not a therapist: he's an acoustical engineer.
  • 9/29/2018 While opening boxes after our move to our new home, I found several stacks of old news articles, many sent by friends, plus some cut out by me and saved.  I am always looking for ideas for my TV segment and newspaper columns. I found one clipping that bears repeating, about how much time people spend kissing.
    In this article, no experts are quoted. There is no scientific polling, no international study referenced. But the people from a well-known breath mint/gum company claim the average person spends 20,000 minutes in his or her lifetime kissing. Again, this is simply an average. Your smooching may vary, depending on whether you attend a lot of Greek weddings or have more than 15 grandchildren.
  • 9/22/2018 “What’s in here?” I asked Mary Ellen as I started to open still another carton the movers had deposited in the lower level of our new home.
    “What does it say on the box?” she asked.
    “It just says STUFF,” I said.
    “Well, that sounds like your kind of labeling system, Dick. A few years ago when we got new carpet, you did the packing alphabetically.  The cat ended up in the same box as the computer.”
    Before she finished her sentence, I realized this was not a box from our current move, but a box still unopened from two moves ago in 1985. I apparently hadn’t missed whatever was in it for almost 35 years. Anything called “stuff” couldn’t be that important, anyway.
  • 9/7/2018 The Wolfsie house is for sale, as we have settled into a new home just a few blocks away. This was a moving experience, to be sure, but there was nothing settling about it. In fact, it was the most stressful experience of our lives.
    Prior to closing on the new house, we did something our builder calls a Celebration Walk, where we had the opportunity to nitpick every paint blemish, wobbly cabinet door and crooked electric socket right before we coughed up the last portion of our down payment. My wife was well prepared, having researched what to look for before we took possession. She wanted to know about the soundness of the structure, whether there was any leakage, or if there were any strange sounds or odors that might be a concern. This kind of scared me—because I’m not sure I could pass that test.
    We have been very conscientious about our house over the past 35 years, but it proved somewhat embarrassing when we started removing furniture and appliances from against the walls. It wasn’t surprising to find old keys, pennies and Bic pens everywhere, but there were dog biscuits way under the couch, and we haven’t had a dog in five years. When the movers found a diaper (clean, I swear) behind the washing machine, I autographed it and gave it to our 31-year-old son. I don’t think he ever missed it.
    Moving day was anxiety ridden. The movers worked 10 hours while Mary Ellen and I mostly just followed the guys around and said, “Put it there” about 200 times. An entire day of pointing is exhausting at my age. When I had no idea where something went, I just pointed at the basement door and said, “Put it in the crawlspace, down there.”
  • 8/19/2018 Mary Ellen and I were relaxing on our back deck and after swatting a few mosquitoes, I said, “You know, sweetheart, we should look into screening in this area.”
    “Yes, Dick, you’ve been saying that every year for the past 25 years. Not only that, but we are moving, remember?”
    A few minutes later I mentioned how quickly the summer passes once the July 4 weekend is over.
    “You say that every year around this time.”
    I also remarked that the neighbors don’t grill out as often as we do. Apparently I had made this observation before. Several times.
    Suddenly, I felt this great pressure on me. After 39 years, I didn’t have a single new thought to offer. I had always taken great pride in my snappy repartee, but those days were clearly over. Several seconds of uneasy silence followed. Mary Ellen finally spoke…
    “When it gets this hot, I think about cutting my hair shorter.”
    “Where have I heard that before?” I asked.
  • 8/11/2018 Facebook has received some very negative financial reports lately. I have also been in the midst of some difficult business deals of my own. We had a big garage sale last weekend and a woman talked me down from a dollar to 50 cents for a Channel 8 coffee mug. I was disappointed in myself for succumbing to her cagey negotiations, but I kept it in perspective: I had a better week than Mark Zuckerberg by about 70 billion dollars.

    The first day of the sale was fun, but the second day put me on edge. I got impatient with some people. One man was asking me questions about an old portable CD player that I had marked a dollar.

    “Does it work?” he asked.

    “Of course it doesn’t work. It’s a dollar. If it worked, it would be two dollars.”

    I became annoyed when people whipped around the cul de sac, eyeballed our offerings from the street and then sped off when disappointed with the selection. How rude is that? Occasionally, the driver would shout out what they were searching for:

    “Got any assault weapons?”
  • 8/3/2018 “What is this?” Mary Ellen asked me as she dangled a doodad in front of my face. It was small, white, plastic, oddly shaped, and had several grooves. “It looks like it goes to something,” she said.

    “I don’t know what it is,” I responded, which I prayed would end the discussion, but I knew it wouldn’t, because my wife can’t leave a thingamajig alone. She has to know what it’s for.

    “Put it somewhere in case we ever need it. It looks important,” she said.

    “So you want me to keep it because we don’t know what it is for?”


    “Of course, if we did know what it was for, we’d also keep it. So, I guess we keep everything,” I responded.
  • 7/27/2018 

    My troubles all started when I disconnected my cable in the basement.

    I only watch television downstairs while I am on my exercise bike, but when the plot gets exciting, I forget to pedal and by the time the show is over, I’ve only “traveled” about 28 feet, which isn’t even a first down. It was time to get rid of the distraction.

    When the cable company got my receiver box and remote control back in the mail, they thought I wanted to discontinue my entire service package, and the next day, all my televisions displayed a black screen with the message: “CUSTOMER DISABLED,” which is a very unfortunate way to phrase my predicament.

  • 7/20/2018 

    When our new washer and dryer arrived last week, I watched as the two behemoths were installed by two other behemoths.

    “Don’t I get instructions?” I asked, as they were packing their tools to leave.

    Expecting a simple tutorial, I was instead handed a 94-page manual. In four languages.

    I stared at the two appliances for several minutes. Our laundry room now looks like the cockpit of a 747. Between the two machines, there are more than three dozen buttons. Each lights up when it’s touched and emits a series of short annoying beeps as if it is trying to communicate with me like the aliens in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

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