Dad put up a sign today, thanking the battery charger pilferer for the return of it.
Previous blog post here: https://muckville.com/2013/11/15/my-dad-and-another-thief-thats-rude/
As we were leaving the house late this morning the family and I turned and looked with amazement and saw … the stolen batter charger was returned!
For the second time my dad’s “Shame on You” campaign worked (for the previous incident see this blog post: https://muckville.com/2013/10/30/my-dad-the-fred-g-sanford-of-the-neighborhood-and-his-onetime-csi-investigation/
I ran into my father a short time later and excitedly told him.
Dad: “Really? I didn’t see it between 8-9 am this morning when I came back from deer hunting. Someone must have brought it back.”
Me: “I’m sort of surprised.”
Dad: “Me too, I didn’t think it would work again.”
Later, when I took the photos I noticed that the people who took and returned it were even thoughtful enough to bracket the tires with small stones to prevent it from falling.
I just called my dad and told him about the stones.
Dad: “I saw that … that was nice … you know what, if they identify themselves I will give the battery charger to them for free now.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if my dad throws in a 50 lb bag of onions on top of it … on second thought, I highly doubt that.
Readers of my blog recall a post of mine back on October 30, 2013 that was entitled “My dad, the ‘Fred G. Sanford’ of the neighborhood and his onetime CSI investigation.” It was an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life” and it dealt in part with an apparent theft of an entertainment center he was selling along side the road near my house.
Folks … it has happened again!
Yesterday my dad put up for sale in the same spot an old battery charger that somewhat works. His target price, $50. Now for a couple of weeks he had a pile of crap there of mostly stuff my brother-in-law unloaded before he moved tot he state of Florida. It wasn’t for sale, there was a big sign that said “free” next to it.
But that wasn’t the case with the battery charger. Dad: “I had the “For Sale” sign with my number.
Sometime between 3-5pm, in broad daylight, someone took the battery charger. My Dad: “That’s rude, that’s just rude.”
So my dad in response once again, just like last time, put up a sign pronouncing shame upon the thieves and offering a reward for info on the theft. Me: “What’s your reward?” Dad: “Half of the money if we get the charger back.” The problem, you really couldn’t read the sign.
Of course the first thing I had to do about this was to Tweet about it:
My Tweets get automatically posted to Facebook and in response my intrepid and faithful FB friend and neighbor Claire posted the following information and clues:
Claire: “damn thieves!… if it happened btwn 3 & 4; there was a white, double cab, maybe duel wheelie, blocking 1/2 your barn drive; figured he was on the phone…. from now on I’m going to listen to my gut; now where the heck is my tire iron…….”
Me: “That had to be who took it! What sort of plate? Did you see how many people in the truck?”
Claire: “NY…dark windows…. think it had one of those silly narrow beds with the outrigger fenders…..”
Me: “Hmm … I don’t recall seeing that around too often … do you?”
Claire: “no…. but I’ll start paying closer attention, gonna start keepin my ol’ 3 iron in the car….”
Two facts must be mentioned at this point:
1. You don’t mess with Claire
2. You are very thankful that she is on your side.
All day my dad has been muttering about the theft … “it’s rude … I don’t believe it … it’s rude ….”
I told him that no one could read his sign so he enlisted me to fix it, which I did.
He then proceeded to walk to the road so as to drill it to the last piece of free furniture that no one wants sitting now for weeks on the side of the road.
I asked him why he was ruining the piece of furniture by drilling the sign into it and he said “no one wants it, I’m gonna burn it.”
As he stepped away from his sign he pointed to it and said “look, there is the ‘For Sale’ sign on the back. How can you miss that? You can’t. That’s rude.”
Now the question remains … will he “catch a thief?”
My friends, this is what I experience virtually every day on the farm.
The following is another excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.”
The McTrip from Hell
In late February of 2010 I had a 3 day trip down to Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill. Because of an approaching blizzard I canceled my meetings for the final day and I switched from a 4 p.m. train to the 9 a.m. Acela, so as to maybe beat the snow and get home ahead of the blizzard. So far so good. About halfway home, just outside of Philadelphia we came to an abrupt stop. Yes, we stopped. This was a first for me, after taking the Amtrak train back and forth over the last three years or so.
After 10 minutes we started moving … backwards. The conductor then announced that someone was hit, a “trespasser” was the term she used, on the tracks. Not by us but by a southbound train. So we had to go back to a junction and switch tracks. And then eventually we would go forward again. But first we sat a half hour or so … and it started to snow heavily … tick tock, tick tock.
The conductors on our train were not exactly forthcoming with information so I called Eve on my cell and asked her to find out what the hell was going on. Eve called Amtrak and found out not one but two dummies were hit by the southbound train. Two young girls, 10th graders or so, who decided to skip out of school and walk on the train tracks to get to wherever they were skipping to. He said to Eve “we can’t travel anywhere near the speed we’d like to because of stuff like this that happens.”
Hmm … one wonders how often “stuff like this” does happen? He told Eve there are now five or six trains, not sure if he meant all were northbounds, were sitting and waiting until the tracks are cleared by law enforcement. Because now it was a crime scene, thanks to the two young “Darwin Award” winners, though I wasn’t sure at that point if they had died or not. I know that sounds cruel, but why would anyone walk on train tracks for a very active, commuter train line?
After close to an hour we were finally on the move forward. We were on restricted speed for 3 miles then we finally made it to the Philadelphia station. I asked Eve if the two girls had died and she said “what do you think?”
Finally, a couple of hours late, I made it to Penn Station in NYC. I then hopped on a connecting train to the new facility at Secaucus Junction. But, thanks to the delays, I missed all of the early Metro North trains from Secaucus Junction to my stop in Harriman, New York. So I called my parents and told them I would be getting there late, probably close to 6:00pm. My parents agreed earlier to pick me up, because Eve had to stay home and watch the boys. My dad said to me when I called him to tell him when I thought I would get to Harriman, “it’s a blizzard, you know.” I replied, “I know, take my Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer, it’s got 4 wheel drive.”
When my train finally arrived in Harriman it was a full blown blizzard. The roads were heavily covered with snow. I had gotten on a 9:00 a.m. train and now it was 5:30 p.m. and snowing like crazy.
In normal conditions, at least a 30 minute drive from home. But, this wasn’t normal driving conditions. I’m not talking about the snow, I’m talking about my ride with my parents.
My parents were all set on eating at Wendy’s on the way home. White out conditions, a foot and a half of snow with more falling but we must stop. Well, when we pulled into the Wendy’s in Chester, it was closed. My mom said “how strange.” I replied, “what are you, Nanook of the North? It’s insane to expect them to be open.” My mom said in reply, “I suppose.” But then she stretches her neck and exclaims, “Hey McDonald’s down the road looks open.” And off to McDonald’s we went.
Did I mention it was a blizzard?
Yes, we must stop and eat at the McDonald’s in Chester. We are the only lunatics there and they are closing once we leave. As we stop at the napkin and condiment island my dad says, in his best conspiratorial voice, “you know these cups for ketchup are smaller here than at Wendy’s” “I did not know that” I replied We sit and eat as quickly as possible, though my dad isn’t eating quick enough for my mom’s liking. “Look at him” she snarls, “eating one French fry at a time. HURRY UP!” she demands. I thought she was going to throw one of her French fries at him. Then she said to me “wait till he starts picking his teeth with his straw.” My dad got the hint from mom and quickened the pace and soon we were crawling on the back roads to home. If I died on the way home at least I would have had one last dining McExperience.
This entire fiasco was chronicled, live, on Facebook. As I posted after we left McDonald’s:
“UPDATE: we are sitting stuck on the Florida-Chester road. I’m stuck with two lunatics. We have no idea why traffic isn’t moving but at least we ate our f*#+ing Happy Meal at McDonalds. You cannot make this sh#t up.”
I then looked at the dash and I saw we had less than a quarter tank of gas. The possibility now loomed we could run out of gas on the way home. I posted on Facebook: “I will be impaling myself with my straw if we don’t start moving soon.”
After about 20 minutes we were finally on the move. But the bad news, my parents started fighting. Or, my mom was fighting and my dad was taking a verbal walloping. I wish I could share it all but it was far too much material for me to chronicle. I literally couldn’t keep up. And it must have been 150 degrees in the truck. I wanted to bail out or be put out of my misery.
Once we were about two to three miles from home I texted Eve to have the bourbon ready.
At about 9:00 p.m. I finally arrived home, 12 hours after I had left Washington, DC. Truly a trip from Hell.
The following below is an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.”
Many years ago, during one of our initial disaster seasons (post 1996) my brother and I noticed our dad started sniffing his hat. Just like that. We’d be in our office, thinking about how bad the crop was due to the weather, and my dad would take his hat off and sniff it. A good, deep sniff, followed by a series of mini sniffs. Just like that. After a few dozen times, when it passed being a tic and was obvious now a codified and repeated habit, my brother and I asked my dad, “why the hell do you keep sniffing your hat?” So he said, “I can smell the stress.” “Huh?” “The stress, the trouble, the pressure, I can tell how bad it is by the smell of that smell.” “What’s it smell like” we asked. “Strong” he replied, it’s a bad year and I can smell it in my hat.” So, only mildly grossed out we said hey, whatever floats your boat dad, but, that’s weird we told him.
A few years later, in 2010, my Facebook friend Mike B. once got a fortune cookie that said:
“Never smell the inside of a hat.”
I kid you not. He took a picture of it and e-mailed it to me. In 2009 my dad let me chronicle hat sniffing in a series of photos. They are now saved for posterity. And here they are:
So, my mom must call four five times a day, every day, asking “where’s your father?” She calls the barn, she calls my house, she leaves messages on the answering machine at the barn. I’ve thought about composing a Dr. Seuss like response but instead I’ve come up with a better idea … I’m going to microchip my dad and give my mom the code …
This comment of mine above, which was originally posted on Facebook, led to my creatively genius of a friend Donald W. to compose a response in the form of Dr. Seuss that touches on my dad’s hat sniffing, my mom’s eternal search for him, my love of 4 Lokos and Neurogasms and of course … onions!
The Dad Who Smells his Hat Comes Back, By Dr. WizSuess
So … I have a YouTube channel … ta da:
It has some informative … entertaining and just plain weird stuff on it. Some videos are fairly and not so fairly recent news appearances. Some are very old family movies that are also … just plain weird. Some are recent farming related videos. And some are college related videos. If you are a fan of Professional Wrestler Mick Foley …
… check some of them out … Mick appears in some of them (he was the teaching assistant for our studio production class at SUNY Cortland). Here is one example:
I have a really funny one that was a parody of the “Just Say No” campaigns but it has me saying some naughty words and Eve won’t let me upload it. One day ….
For an example of news pieces here is one … from WABC TV in NYC when they did a story about my $150,000 bag of onions on eBay (plus a free 5 gallon bucket of genuine dirt):
For funny and weird family movies check out my dad’s home movies from his Army days … this is priceless material:
I was also for 3 summers an instructor at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute or “Cherub” program:
Some of the videos are projects from the students I helped teach. Here is one example:
So, feel free to check it out and even subscribe if you like!
The following is another excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” It involves one man’s war against squirrels in order to keep his nuts.
Man vs. Squirrel
Where we live is a very rural area, with thousands of acres of wide- open farmland. We have some wooded areas and small mountains nearby, but not within a mile or two from my house and the barns where we pack our onions, which are on the same property as my house. What this translates into is essentially a low squirrel population zone. Squirrels you see in the woods, or in a suburban neighborhood. We simply are not that. But, on occasion, every so often, a squirrel or three will venture out to our area. They must be forward scouts or something. You’ll see them in the trees or running around for a few days. Then eventually you’ll find them on the side of the road, dead, roadkill.
Set within that context allow me to present one example of the eternal battle waged between MAN and NATURE. I proudly present this microcosm of the struggle … Polish walnut lover vs. the squirrels!
My brother lives outside the Village of Montgomery, about 30 minutes from my house and the barns. He has 4 walnut trees in his yard and my dad back in September of 2010 had him collect a bunch of the nuts that had fallen from the tree to bring to him at the barn. Did I mention that my dad loves walnuts? For those of you not familiar with walnuts, Wiki points out:
“Walnuts are rounded, single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree. The walnut fruit is enclosed in a green, leathery, fleshy husk. This husk is inedible. After harvest, the removal of the husk reveals the wrinkly walnut shell, which is in two halves.”
My dad early that morning separated most of the walnuts from their green outer shell, which took some time and effort, and then decided to lay them out to dry out on my blacktop in front of my house. It took him about an hour to separate the nut from the outer green goo casing. He so loves these black walnuts. Where he laid them out was clearly visible from the barn where we were working, and since it was warm and dry we had the barn doors open. As I would feed the grader with onions and take away the stacked pallets I would occasionally catch a glance of my dad’s walnuts on the ground.
He had two distinct piles, those shelled and those still with the green outer casing.
As we were grading, around mid morning, I brought in some boxes of onions from outside into the barn and I noticed a flash of gray. It was a squirrel. It was making a dash for the pile of booty. And then I blinked and there was another one, heading towards the walnuts. As I watched, doubling over in laughter, the two squirrels started taking all of the nuts my dad had separated from the casing this morning. They were in heaven; they had found a veritable walnut goldmine.
I told my dad and everyone at the grader what was happening. My dad says, “hmm … how they know, they must smell them or something.” I said, “looks like the squirrels are taking all of your nuts.” My dad replies, “I’m going to follow them and take them back.” I replied, “looks like they are winning here.” In response he said, “it’s two against one, that’s not fair.” He chased them to our neighbor Moose’s yard. They went up a tree and also tried to hide some of the nuts in different little spots on Moose’s yard. He gathered what he could, the squirrels watching helpless … for the moment.
My dad went back to our yard and proceeded to gather all of the nuts he separated from the shell and put them in a bucket and covered the bucket. He had the last laugh … or so he thought …..
About 10 minutes later I look back out towards my house and the squirrels were not so easily deterred. They knocked over the cover to the bucket. So in response my dad took away the ones he already had shelled. But they weren’t so easily deterred.
The squirrels started to shell the unshelled nuts he had left. By the way, they furiously licked those nuts before they scurried away with them, almost as if they knew his counter-plot to steal them back. They then started working on the ones that weren’t shelled. One after another after another they shelled, licked furiously and scampered away with the walnuts. Doubling over with laughter I called my dad, “you better do something quick, or you ain’t gonna have no nuts left.”
Quickly my dad grabbed some onion bags and started to put the nuts in them. He then hung them in the bag on the clothes line, and went back to the barn. What do you think happened a few minutes later? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in this instance on man versus nature, score one for the squirrels.
I have photographs of all of this, as you can all see.
The following is an excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” September 23rd is Eve and I’s 23rd wedding anniversary and this little vignette is about one of our favorite past anniversaries … enjoy!
Happy Anniversary 2007
Eve and I were married in September of 1990. Being married in September meant that if we ever moved back to the farm our anniversary would always come in the midst of one of the busiest and most hectic times of the year for me. So, no “get-aways” or mini vacations for our anniversary, it would always be limited to a dinner out together, after work. In 2007 we went out to a local restaurant, Limoncello at Orange Inn in Goshen for a romantic dinner. My parents, who live next door, would usually watch Caleb and Jonah and they said they would again. It was a wonderful dinner and since it was our anniversary they gave us each a shot of limoncello liquor, which came after a few glasses of wine during dinner. At this point Eve and I are feeling good, Eve really good (since I was driving), if you know what I mean. So she’s feeling all romantic and fancy and would like this special moment to continue a little longer, if you know what I mean.
On the way home she called my parents on her cell phone to see if they wouldn’t mind watching our sons for a little longer. My dad answers the phone and Eve tells him we are on our way home and she gently asks if they wouldn’t mind watching the boys a little longer. Guess what … HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE MEANT! He says, “I don’t think so, Gracie doesn’t feel that well and we’re tired, so you better pick up the boys.” Click. Eve growls, a soft growl She isn’t happy. And then a chain of expletives uttered forth from her mouth. It was potentially a wonderful moment temporarily dashed. So, we picked up the boys and later that night we picked up where my parents left us off, if you know what I mean.
The next morning we’re grading onions and my mom and dad are picking rots and I’m operating the barn forklift, like I usually do. At the grading table are a couple of our Mexican farmworkers, a husband and wife who have a moderate grasp of English. Well, my parents wave me over to the grading table (which I really hate, because I jump off that forklift enough during the day as it is) and my dad starts to gripe at me. He says: “Uh, that was a bit much there, don’t you think? We watch your boys for the dinner and you want us to watch them longer (by the way, we called them at 7pm, not midnight). That’s a bit much.”
I’m stewing but I just nod and walk away. About a half hour later they call me back and my dad gets into it again. He says: “you know, your mother and I were just talking and we can’t believe you asked us to watch them longer. We were tired and your mother didn’t feel well. That’s a bit much, won’t you agree.” At this point the farmworkers are starting to snicker. But I said nothing and went back to the forklift.
They then called me over for a third time and once again my dad starts saying “that’s a bit much you know” and adds “and you mother wants to tell you too.” At which point I exploded “WE WANTED TO HAVE SEX! SEX! WE WANTED TO HAVE SEX ON OUR ANNIVERSARY WITH NO BOYS IN THE HOUSE. SORRY FOR THE REQUEST!”
Lydia and Geraldo the Mexican farmworkers who understood fully what was going on, including what Eve and I wanted to do the previous night, at this point burst out laughing. They clearly figured out what we wanted…. if you know what I mean. Then my mom and dad started to laugh and my dad sheepishly said: “Oh, okay.” He finally knew what we meant!
Today, like most days during late July thru late September was really busy. We were harvesting about 7 acres or so, and a car pulls in. Sometimes people that have been stopping by for years pop in to try and buy some onions. Sometimes total strangers just pop in looking to buy some onions. That latter happened today when during a lull between trucks a car pulled in and these three characters popped out:
As soon as these guys started waddling around I thought to myself, “oh crap, it’s Larry, Moe and Curly.” I wasn’t far off.
When they pulled in I was busy on the big field forklift bringing onions in the barn so they would be dry for grading and packing tomorrow. I really didn’t have time to stop. Once a full army truck pulled in I had to stop and work on on unloading the truck. So, I let my dad handle these characters, it’s right up his alley anyway.
As I kept bringing the boxes in I watched as they walked all over the place … taking a handful of onions from one place, then from another … my dad right behind them, showing them around. We get people like that, real pests … want a 10 pound bag of onions, or even a 50 pound bag, but balk at the absurdly cheap wholesale price we charge and offer us cash … as if we really will get one by the taxman because we sold some doofus 50 pounds of onions for a dollar less which we won’t report. We always tell these people, “we’re getting paid $12 per 50 pounds for 900 bags, and getting paid in 30 days (usually), why do I need to sell you a bag for $10?”
Well, going back to the customers today, as I watched them I thought to myself, “hey, these guys are a step down for Larry, Moe and Curly, I mean look at the shirts, and hats, and pants, and the way they walk, all that was missing was an occasional eye poke and ‘nyuck nyuck nyuck.'”
I had to stop and talk to them. First, while I was still on the forklift and Miguel was removing a cover off a box, I surreptitiously snapped some photos of them as they dug in a box:
I then engaged in conversation with the guy wearing the hat that said “Total Clean Ups.”
Me: “So, where are you fellas from, are you local?”
Total Clean Ups (in an ethnic accent I couldn’t at first place): “We’re from New Paltz. We got a farm, but not like this, small place, and we don’t grow onions.”
I looked at his shirt and noticed the name tag.
Me: “Your name must be Bruno.”
Total Clean Ups: “Nah, my name is Larry. Bruno is my brother, my other brother, I just wear his shirt after work.”
He then went back to work, furiously digging through a box of undersize onions. At this point the man with the white cap approached me. He had a raspy voice and a slight accent, one that sounded Polish.
White cap: “You guys Polish? Those two (motioning to the other other two guys, now both furiously digging through the box) are Italian.”
Me: “Are you all brothers?”
White cap (laughs): “What? No way! Those two are brothers. They are crazy! I’m just a friend. (yells to Larry) “Hey Larry, what are you going to do with all those onions?” (then continues with me) “They’re crazy, and their other brother is crazier yet.”
Me: “You mean Bruno?”
White cap: “Yeah! hey, do you know Bruno?”
Me: “No, not really, though I did meet his shirt.”
At this point the brother of Larry, who looked like Rip Torn in one of his mug shots and whose fly was on the way to being fully open, approached me. I was a bit apprehensive because White Cap did say he was crazy.
Actually, he looked like he was the byproduct resulting from a romantic encounter between Rip Torn and Bela Lugosi.
Fly open: “Hey, when are you going to start digging the potatoes?”
Me: “Uhm, never. I don’t grow potatoes.”
Fly open: “WHAT? Get out!”
At this point these 3 Stooges started to load their car … with White Cap repeatedly asking the crazy brothers as he scratched his chin “what are you going to do with all these onions?”
At one point White Cap grabbed a 50 pound bag which held about a dozen onions in it or so.
White Cap: “How much for this?”
They were buying over 200 pounds of onions … why did he need that? As I looked at the bag I think it contained onions that suffered mechanical damage and were just bagged to get them out of the way. I thought for a second and said:
Me: “I don’t know … why don’t you just keep it for free.”
He gave me a big smile. At this point an army truck full of onions pulled in and I had to go. I paused for a moment and wistfully hoped that one day my 3 Stooges would return for more onions to my farm.
So, you’ve seen a glimpse of what it looks like as we harvest on the field, well, here is what happens on the other end on the yard.
So, Eve shot this video of what happens when we harvest onions on the yard with our new Sony HDR-PJ650 Handycam. I then put it together in iMovie.
We finished harvesting a field of my brother’s transplant reds (Bejo’s Redwing) and moved on to start a field of my dad’s yellow transplants (Bejo’s Braddock). The music I added was the same music playing on my phone and into my earphones as I worked.
A first experiment with the new technology …enjoy!