Come on in!

I’ve started referring to my parents’ home as The Puzzle Palace: I just never, NEVER know what to expect to see when I visit.


One night in the middle of Winter, I paid them a visit. My mother was doing the dishes and shaking her head sideways. “Your father”, she muttered.


“Oh, no!” I thought. “What’s he done now?”


You see, my father is a true do-it-your-selfer. His belief is that ‘why should you give money to the big chain stores, when you can build the same thing from spare parts lying around the garage?’ Even when doing so violates household safety and building codes.


My mother indicated that Dad was working on something in the basement. Hesitantly, I walked down the steps into my father’s laboratory.


“Igor, come quickly! I need you!”


“Yes, Master!”


OK, obviously that’s not what was said, but it just as well had been, given my father’s latest monstrosity. He was making a bird feeder stand out of spare copper pipe sections. He asked me to hold one section, while he welded another to it.


With a propane torch




With no ventilation


Combustible materials all around


I hate this movie.


Reluctantly, I held the pipe while he applied soldering paste flux to the ends. My father apparently had the torch adjusted to clear the enemy out of their caves on Iwo Jima, because a long jet of flame came whooshing toward me. I was able to duck just in time.


“Hey! You have to turn it down! You almost roasted my head!”


“Oh, come on, relax! You’re just overly sensitive because of where you were (referencing the war in Iraq).”


“Yeah, well, for good reason, Dad!”


“I’m almost done.”


As he relit the torch, he was cradling it in his arm, because he was also holding the container of flux. Dad ended up igniting the torch, along with the solder paste and his shirt sleeve.


Great! Now we have blue, green and orange flames.


Screaming at my father to get out of the way, I punted the torch into the fieldstone basement wall. The flames went out, and I started slapping at his sleeve.


Just then, I heard my mother yelling to my father from upstairs: “What’s going on down there?!”


Dad: “Don’t tell your mother what just happened.”


Me: “Oh, no! I’m telling Mom!”



come on in, welcome, everyone is welcome

You’d think my parents’ house was a youth hostel, or a safe house for aircrew shot down during WWII. I mean, Mom and Dad used to let everyone and anyone in like they were family or really good friends. I suppose that was the mentality of people raised during the 40’s and 50’s. Everybody trusted one another back then.



That is so not the case, now. With hardcore drug use at high and rising levels, users will go to any lengths to score valuables and not-so-valuables to sell in order to finance their heroin and meth addiction.


One night in the dead of Winter, I stopped in at my parents’ after doing some grocery shopping for them. As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed 2 pairs of footprints in the snow, tracing a path from the road up to the porch.


Uh oh…


Bounding quickly up the steps, half not knowing what to expect and afraid of what I would find, I swung open the door.


There were 2 off-duty Mormons sitting on the couch, drinking hot chocolate, while my parents were watching “Breaking Bad.”


Wow. Not something you see every day…


“OK, you know what? I’m just going into the next room to freak out about something COMPLETELY unrelated to this. Don’t mind me.”

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