Saturday, February 28, 2009

What a man won't do for rubber pants

Well, faithful readers, you remember the sad saga of the waders that had a blow-out a few weeks back? Since that chilly and damp day my inclinations have been to prevent a further similar incident. And tomorrow there is a young man who desires to follow Jesus in biblical baptism. YIPPEE!!! Seriously. I absolutely love baptizing God's new kids.

But this time I would like to do so without wetting myself.

Debbie and I have been providing room and board to The Amazing Elle for the last few days. Kelli has been ill. And while I am very sorry about Kelli's tummy troubles I certainly enjoyed my granddaughter. Well, today was the day to take her home. And they live just a few miles from the world famous .... please, maestro, my I have a drum roll ... THE BASS PRO SHOP!

I've heard about this place for years. Never had much of a hankerin (entering my red neck mode) to go there. I use to fish a bit with my dad when I was a kid. He would take my brother and I and we would camp out on the stinky shores of the Illinois River at Starved Rock State Park in northern Illinois. I think dad did it because, well, a dad is suppose to do that. And we went because a kid is suppose to. We'd catch carp and throw them back or give them to people along the river bank that eyed our catch with a weirdly fascinating hunger for bottom-feeding fish. That's pretty much been my exposure to fishing. I hated putting the worm on the hook and I prayed that no fish would bite because I didn't want to have to take them off the line ... and re bait. Ugh. But I know a lot of people that fish and hunt and buy guns and generally have love affairs with aluminum (canoe's) and canvas (tents.) Me? No thanks.

And then I went to the Bass Pro Shop. And I have only one thing to say about that.


Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to announce that the recession is officially over. I could barely find a place to park outside this Disney World for Bambi-Killers. Debbie ran ahead while The Amazing Elle and I pushed our way through the very cold wind toward the front door. That's when trouble first hit. Free handfuls of kettle corn. We grabbed some and ran before they changed their minds. And then ... this is hard ... then they had this huge swimming pool kind of thing set up. And there were bass in it. Big bass. And all around the pool were little fishing poles. Kid sized fishing poles. It was an opportunity for kids to learn the art of de-bassing our planet at the place whose name throws fear into all bass world wide. Al Gore, where are you?

And guess who wanted to fish. Yup.

I delayed her as we went into the store in search of the sacred waders. Are you aware that you can actually spend in excess of FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for rubber pants? I'm dead serious! I stared in wonder ... pants sticker shock ... swearing that my next stop would be Wal-Mart for a pair of speedo's. That's when a nice teenage girl asked if she could help me. I told her that I needed some waders that would not require that I sell my churches property in order to pay for them because all I wanted to do was stay dry while I baptize people. She immediately pointed to a table with large boxes of rubber waders ... a mere $39.99. She told me that they sell a lot of those for baptisms. SOLD!

Debbie, Elle and I then weaved our way d-i-r-e-c-t-l-y to the check-out line. And when I say "weaved" that's exactly what I mean. There were more people per square foot in there than in a homeless shelter for bankers. That's when Elle reminded me about "fishen." I pointed out the stuffed twelve foot tall grizzly bear at the front door. No matter. It's time for fishen. Grandpa promised.

Oh geez.

Okay, so I asked Debbie to pay for the waders while Elle and I went "fishen." We walked outside with zipped up coats and freezing fingers. It was free day for kids. This was good. So we picked up a pole and made our way to the pool of frenzied Bass. Odd. There was no bait on the hook. They weren't even real hooks. Just bent ... wires or something. But I remembered that Debbie told me when she was a kid she caught a fish once on a paper clip with no bait. Hey, I'm gullible. Whatever. We threw our hook into the pool along with about twenty other kids and their parents.

Poor Elle. Not even a nibble. And yet people kept pulling out these HUGE Bass. What the ... How in the ... I couldn't figure it out. We froze for about 20 minutes when I noticed Debbie standing next to us. Ahhhh ... my excuse! My asthmatic wife cannot be allowed to stand in the cold. I explained to Elle that sometimes you catch the fish and sometimes the fish catches you. She gave me a puzzled look and propped her pole up against the wall. We returned to the wonderful heater of our Trail Blazer.

It was not until tonight that Debbie mentioned that Bass that they had tied to that one line.


Yeah. You know, the one they kept catching. The one that they kept on a pole that they were passing around from kid to kid and then pulling out with a net. That fish.

Uhhhh. I knew that. Really I did. I just didn't want to spoil things for Elle. It's all about the illusion. You know. Pretending to ... uh ... catch fish.

I'm never going back to the Bass Pro Shop again for all eternity.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ms. Elle

My granddaughter, Elle Parker, is visiting us this weekend while her daddy tours with his band (The Fundamental Elements) and her mommy fights a bout of the "turning tummy syndrome." I'm having the time of my life with her. I could write a gazillion stories or I could just sum up a busy day by saying that it ended like this ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm not very good ....

I'm not very good at this home buying stuff. No, really. I'm not.

This afternoon Debbie and I went to see a real estate agent after she got off of work. We had an appointment to view a home that is up for "short sale." That means something like ... the owner is about to get foreclosed on and so they have set a (supposedly) ridiculously low sale price in order to unload it before it's too late. Of course the bank has to agree to the ridiculously low price. So the number really doesn't mean anything. It was just pulled out of a hat in hopes of luring a perspective buyer. I can't blame them. I would do the same thing.

But here's the deal. The house was nice. It was pretty big. It was only about 3 years old. Honestly it is way more house than we need. The only time we would even conceivably use all of the space is if all of our kids showed up at once and wanted to stay with us. Seeing as how that has never happened in the course of human history, it isn't all that likely to happen in the future.

But it might.

Still. That's not my point. The family that owned the house left before we got there and they were obviously in the middle of packing things up. Boxes were strewn everywhere. Furniture sat at odd angles. The kids bedrooms were about the only places that were not all torn up. Yet. That's coming too.

So I'm suppose to be looking at this house and thinking about what a great deal it just might be. That's the way it works. Somebody else's pain is my gain. Instead I'm walking through the house and I'm thinking ... "These poor people. A family is having their guts torn out here. They are losing their home. This isn't right. This place was there dream home just slightly over a year ago. And now they are trying desperately to get out from under it before it drags their credit rating even deeper into the muck and more."

I want to help those people. I can't. I mean, maybe it would help them if I bought their home. But I really deeply believe in waiting for God to "bump me" and tell me when to do what. And He hasn't "bumped me" yet. Maybe He will tomorrow. But not yet. And so I'm suppose to be sleeping and dreaming of a nice beautiful home in the suburbs again. I mean, our apartment is nice ... but it's still an apartment. And God has blessed us with the ability to buy a home. Hey, it's a buyers market. It's the mother-of-all buyers markets. Still, I'm waiting for God. And instead of dreaming ... I'm wondering what it's like to sleep in that house right now. Tonight. It must be so sad. It must really, really hurt.

I told you. I'm not very good at this home buying stuff.