Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Thanks to my Dad for always being there for me and for my son, Alex. You taught me so many things, including how to fish, and I cherish all those memories I have of us in the boat on Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. You raised me as your own and I am grateful to still have you in my life.

Thanks to QH, who has been Alex's Dad for the last 15 of his 21 years. You have also been a great Dad to your own sons who still call and ask you for guidance and advice. You've also become a wonderful grandpa and I love you more each day when I see you melt holding little Ava in your arms.

Thanks to my grandfather, Julian (Bud) Crawford, who passed on when I was fifteen. He gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me, "Trust your gut." Coming from a World War II veteran, it's proven to be the wisest and truest thing I've ever heard. I've always regretted when I've gone against this advice. Thanks, Grandpa.

Thanks also to George Hathaway, QH's Dad, who passed away last year. Your son is fond of saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff," which is your advice. We all miss you and your laugh, especially when we watch Bugs Bunny, or Yosemite Sam ("Whoa, Camel!"). Thanks also for being my "reading buddy."

And finally, thanks to the father I never met. There have been times in my life when I thought I hated you for abandoning me and Mom all those years ago. I also wondered over the years why you never looked for me, or why I never looked harder for you. If you are alive or have passed on, it doesn't matter to me anymore. I've forgiven you for abandoning us, and have decided to let that fantasy of a tearful, Oprah-moment reunion go on and be part of my past. I can't carry that around anymore, I have much more important things to do. I've had a good life, and will continue to have a good life, with or without you. After all, you are the one missing out.

If your father is alive, or estranged from you, or passed on, find a moment to thank them, or forgive them (which is for your benefit, not theirs), or send a prayer to them. Dad's don't get the recognition they deserve, and often don't get shown the love and support they need to be active, loving parents. The court system often ignores the rights of fathers in divorce and custody hearings, when all they want is to be part of their children's lives, not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well. As a country, we need to stop putting all the power in the hands of the courts and the bias against fathers needs to end.

Thanks to all the fathers who have stepped up, taken responsibility and raised their sons and daughters to do the same. And a special thanks to all the Dads who are serving our country in the armed forces, both at home and abroad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Observations On Birthdays, Classic Cars and Temp Jobs

Since my last post, I've turned a year older (June 11th). Considering how the last year was, I'm grateful I'm still alive and kicking. I'm also grateful I still have everything and everyone in my life.

Ironically, one year to the day I lost my full time job at the plastics factory in Rogers, I was cancelled at a plastics factory in Maple Plain I was hoping would be a temp-to-hire position.

It was more devastating than the first time because as hard as it was to lose my job and the friends I had there in Rogers, it was even harder this time because I had such high expectations. I talked to the staffing agency and asked what on Earth happened. No reason, really, just that's just the way the temp job-ball- bounces. As my son is fond of saying, "Here's your straw. Now suck it up."

I can't help taking it personally, and I also can't help getting attached to the people I work with. I'm a social butterfly. If you think about it, we all spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our own immediate families. When you click as a working unit and you all get along and help each other, it's a great thing, not just for the company's bottom line, but for everyone. I loved the hours, I didn't mind the drive (about a 35 to 45 minutes from my doorstep to the plant). I even had a lady who was car pooling with me who lived a few blocks away from me! That never happens in Zimmerman, Minnesota!

But then, I ended up working last week in a thermoforming plastics plant in Elk River. It was plastics, larger parts and windshields and stuff, but I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was I needed a paycheck coming in. Thursday morning, my lightbulb moment occurred.

After four nights of working there, the last night I nearly passed out from the heat. In order for the plastic parts to be formed, there are sheets that must be placed on a tray and put into an oven set at volcanic. The sheets come out of the oven, and are pressed into a mold and then you trim them and package them. They are not running at full capacity on the 3rd shift...yet.

I decided after surviving that final night cutting out windshields in a corner with no fan and next to one of those ovens, I would be dead in another week. Heat exhaustion is not fun. I'm so surprised I didn't end up in the emergency room. I came home, took a shower then turned the cold water on as long as I could stand it because I was so overheated my skin looked like I had a sunburn.

As the cold water ran down my head to my feet I had a life altering thought. "I'm not going back. There is a better way to make money that won't kill me. I'll do whatever it takes, work any other job, but not this one or anything like it, ever again."

I got out of the shower, dried off, put on my PJ's and called the staffing agency and told them I would like a different job, please. I told them I would not be able to perform the job effectively because of the heat and the physicality of the job itself. You need more strength to lift those heavy and awkward sheets of plastic, and if I was 100 pounds lighter and 20 years younger, I might be ok. But the realization set in I'm not, and I can do so much more than kill myself at a job I can't perform as well as they want, nor, do I want to.

I say it's the equivalent of hitting bottom. I know now what I will do and won't do for a paycheck. You won't hear me complaining about flipping burgers, asking if you want fries with that or scrubbing toilets. Any job right now, will be a blessing.

Since then, I've been severely dehydrated and drinking water as much as possible to keep from getting sick. My hands are swollen, but I'm hoping it will pass once my system is flushed out. Ok, enough whining. On to more fun things.

This weekend is Back to the 50's weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I'll be posting some pictures at my website,, and you can get a taste below of some of the more unusual cars on display.

Alex was still feeling under the weather, but QH and I did our fair share of walking until our feet hurt. Because we had a dinner date at Jesse & Patrice's, we came home about noonish, had a sandwich for lunch and then took a nap until it was time to head out to their house.

Ava, who is now 15 months old, woke up when we got there. She was so funny walking around barefoot in her little summer dress. I read to her, and we played trucks and "peek-a-boo." I always seem to get my perspective when I visit her.

I'm a bad Gamma because I don't visit her enough. That's another lightbulb moment I had, was realizing how fast she's growing up and her little sister will be arriving in September, and I need to spend more time with her.

I look at Alex, my son, and can't believe he's now 21 years old, has served in the Navy, done all the things he's done, and seen all the places he's seen. It's hard to look back at how short the time is when your kids are little. You think at the time, they will always stay the same, they will always be your kid. And in a lot of ways, he still is, but he's now a young man. I'm so proud of him and regret the times I wasn't there for him. I hope he doesn't hold it against me.

Spend more time with your kids, please, because it flies by faster than you think.