Posts Tagged ‘money’

Stuck In a Well With Moonshiners

February 23, 2013

In June we had our well pump replaced by the guys from J & L Well & Pump Service.  I’m pretty sure their relatives are Jim Tom, Tickle, and the boys from Moonshiners.  They dress like them, talk like them, and their dental programs seem to be more reactive than proactive.  The head of J & L’s crew is a… tooth challenged guy named Leon.  Leon is the “L” in J & L. He told me so with a thick southern Indiana drawl that rolled off his tongue and out of the hole between missing teeth. Leon called me Craig. (When you say Craig you should put heavy emphasis on the “ai” sound…Craiiiiig) 

If you’ve never seen Moonshiners the concept for this show is similar to several other Discover Channel reality shows that rely heavily on the personalities and extreme circumstances of the characters and their extreme profession.  If you’ve seen Deadliest Catch, Swamp People, Ax Men, or Bering Sea Gold you know what I’m talking about.  Who wouldn’t like a show about avoiding the cops while brewing illegal high octane sour mash whiskey in some random woods that is 50 miles south of indoor plumbing and 180 miles west of common sense?  I know of one…my daughter Grace.  She will tell you without hesitation that I have a problem. Southern accents, overalls, and moonshine are not her cup of…sweet tea.  Refusing to allow myself to be governed by the rants of a sixteen year old…I tune in.    My dad’s side of our family is from a small town named Acorn, Kentucky.  Acorn is in the heart of moonshining country down in a holler near Summerset.  Having been there I’ve witnessed firsthand our moonshining relatives in their native habitat.  Watching the show is a trip down memory lane.  To me it is an hour of mindless entertainment… combined with the possibility of connecting with a lost relative.

It appears that cool spring water is important in the brewing process.  Wait a minute!  We are on a well…we have cool spring water pouring from our taps. My mind began to wander…after all…the Acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree! 

Then it all changed.

Saturday morning I kissed the Phelps women good bye.  Grace went off to ballet class and my wife left for a day of work in the ER. (Treating people like Jim Tom and Tickle)  I had a date with our apple trees.  Winter is the time of year to prune apple trees.  Pruning improves apple growth in the summer.  While I’m in the midst of pruning I’m usually inspired to have a talk with God about life, love, and all things good.  As I was pruning nature called so I went back into the house.  I went to the faucet.  Not one drop of cool spring water came from the tap. Our neighborhood is prone to power outages.  I glanced at the clock. It was working…that could only mean one thing.  Something was up with our well…again!  I naively thought that once the pump was fixed in June we would have another twenty plus years of cool clean goodness pouring from each faucet.  Wrong!

I called Leon the pump guy aka Jim Tom.  With assistants who mirrored the cast from Moonshiners in tow he showed up and began to diagnose the problem…He turned on the faucet.  ”Hell it looks like you ain’t got NO water.”  Then he hooked up a meter and did some electrical voodoo on the pump wires.   It seemed that our current problem was lectrical in nature. “Dat ware (wire) dat run from da foundation to da pump …done gone bad.”  In no time they transformed part of our yard and front porch into a mud bog and found the problem wasn’t the ware it was the pump.  Luckily the pump had a two year warranty.  There was one slight problem…Moonshiners don’t honor warranties.  Showing them the receipt seemed to me to be the logical step.  The problem, Moonshiners aren’t logical.  They argued, they pondered, they strategized, and they argued some more.  Eventually I had to forcefully point out that I paid them $2300.00 in June to do the job right and they needed to make good on that work.  Day three without water had become a pain.  We showered away from home.  Grace went to a friend’s house, I went to the gym, and my wife was in the ER taking sponge baths with patients…ok not really.  I can tell you she wasn’t taking sponge baths with me because…we had no water.  Days without water at my house had a limiting effect on “sponge baths”…if you know what I mean.  As if I didn’t have enough incentive to get the water hooked up before…I certainly did now. 

Later that afternoon they came to the door to talk payment again…which had grown to $1250.  My friend, neighbor, and attorney happened to drive by as we debated the reality of this payment.  I pointed to the car and said, “There goes my attorney.  I’d hate to have to get him involved.” Jim Tom turned to the crew of two and motioned. They started packing up.  The dead pump lay lifelessly next to one of the mud piles that surrounded our well.  Frustrated I went inside to call other well companies to get their opinion on pump warranties.

As I was on the phone the moonshiners took off with my new pump …and my old pump! I called the police.  I called my attorney.  I called the moonshiners to negotiate.  Then I called out to God asking what had happened to the peace, love, and good will we discussed Saturday morning as I stood cradled in the braches of my apple trees! 

This was beyond ridiculous!  I’d begun drawing water for flushing from the nearby crik (creek).  We had jugs of water for cooking and drinking.  Without running water our lifestyle had begun to transform into that of an Appalachian shanty dweller.  Suddenly whittling and playing the banjo by candle light had a strange appeal. Oh my god I was becoming one of them! 

Then Jim Tom and the boys came back with a new attitude and a new pump.  My wife, armed with a double barrel shotgun and a fresh wad of chewing tobacco had a different opinion of how this would play out.  She stood on the porch and hollered at them to git (get) their sorry asses off our land…then she spit and took aim…ok that didn’t happen.  Here is the truth.  They broke something in the well shaft while installing the new pump and left us at the end of the day without water.  I fired them and called in the cavalry…aka Hamilton Brothers, Inc.  They arrived the next day as I was making rabbit stew and sloppin the pigs…ok not really…I had plenty of slop, but no pigs…I’d fired them the night before.  The new guys tossed out a flurry of sarcastically tinged rhetorical questions about the moonshiner’s quality of workmanship. Then they got to work.  After four hours of work with high pressure tools and hydraulic wenches they came to the door with news.  The well had been rendered useless, by Jim Tom and the boys.  We had two choices; drill a new well for $6,000.00 or hook up to city water for what turned out to be $3900.00.  I was beyond pissed. 

Later that day as I was sitting at my dining room table discussing the process of hooking up to city water with my wife and our licensed and bonded contractor (that’s important) when Jim Tom called back.  He wanted to let me know that they’d be taking me to court to collect the money I owed for the new pump and the work they’d done.  He also wanted me to know that firing them had voided the warranty on that pump. At that point my calm disposition left the building.  I said, “Listen to me you fucking hill jack, if you call our house one more time I’m going to grab that pump, take it to your house, and shove it up your ass in front of your fat toothless wife.”  Then I hung up and looked over at my wife and the contractor and said, “I’m sorry, where were we?”  He didn’t bat an eye.  

Jim Tom called back.  I let it roll to voicemail.  Then Carly called from Chicago.  She’d been mugged by four teenagers.  She wasn’t hurt but, she was shaken and crying.  Suddenly everything that had just happened was put into perspective.  This episode with Jim Tom and our Moonshiners needed to become water under the bridge.  There were more important things in life that needed my attention.

 

 

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A Sign of the Times?

October 8, 2011

Early Wednesday morning as I headed to the Monon I saw a sign that read, “Who Stole Jesus?”  This was not a spiritual sign that comes to you in a moment of clarity.  It was a real sign in a real yard.    The sign was the same style and size as the “Home For Sale” variety.  It was professionally printed not written in marker.  My first thought was, “I didn’t know he was stolen!”  Was this THE Jesus Christ, son of God, or was he someone else… probably Hispanic… who happened to be given a powerful name?  If it wasn’t the beginning of October I would immediately think someone hijacked a nativity scene.  However we are in the midst of Indian summer and people are just gearing up for Halloween.  Give it another week before stores start pushing JC’s B-day and decorations start to sprout.  This appeared to be a message targeted to the people who frequent the intersection of Meridian Street and Kessler.  Were they trying to reach the governor?  Other people with money?   I’ve since seen several more of the signs around town.  So they are trying to get the word out.  I’m not sure why they are being so subtle about it.  This seems to be a big deal, given the stature of the guy who was nabbed.

I have to admit I didn’t know he’d come back.  You’d think that would have made the nightly news.  Our local stations are all so hungry to scoop a story I’m surprised we haven’t heard something like, “Breaking news from the west side!  This just into our news room…JC is back and he’s been spotted in Indianapolis!”  Not the case though.  Somehow they missed this and the subsequent story about him being stolen.  They were probably too focused on the Colts 0-4 start…or the possible renaming of Georgia Street

It’s interesting that he opted to return in the Midwest rather than the Middle East.  It is pretty here this time of year though.  Maybe he wanted to do Brown County before heading over to Jerusalem.  You know…take in the fall foliage, buy some apple butter, baptize a few people, and then go overseas after Thanksgiving.  He kind of missed our holiday the first time around.  It’s festive, it celebrates all the right things, and the parade is nice too.  I’m sure he was interested in taking in a Colts game, but with Payton out for the year…not so much.

This is a mayoral election year in Indianapolis.  There is only a month to go in race.  You’d think Melina Kennedy would have jumped at the chance for a photo op.  She could use a little divine intervention.  Surly the Mayor’s office would have countered with something of their own…but no? 

How does one steal him anyway?  You’d think he’s be surrounded by a few people.  Did someone sneak through the masses and slip a roofie into his glass of wine?  Boy you are really throwing caution to the wind when you decide to steal a guy like that.  Talk about Hell to pay.  I doubt you have the big picture in mind.  I mean this isn’t the Lindbergh baby.  This is pretty high up there on the crime chart.  What’s the motive?  What’s the ransom?  Who would be targeted for paying it?  Probably the Vatican.   How messy would that be?  One minute you’re sitting around an apartment getting high with two guys like Seth Rogen.  One of them makes the comment about how cool it would be to have more money than God.  Then someone suggests kidnapping JC.  You know because playing the lottery has poor odds and these days with the bad economy so does finding a job.  So they bumble into pulling it off.  They ask for ransom…something like gold, frankincense, myrrh…and three tickets to Montana.  They hide in…Rocky Ripple to wait for the drop.  The next thing they know they’ve got the Knights Templar on their tail and some church in Indianapolis has joined the search by posting signs all over the north side. 

Wow and I thought my life was complicated.

 

Protesting a High School

September 23, 2009

This week Carly’s high school is being picked by the members of a church because of a play they are staging.  I’ll let you digest that one for a minute…a school of kids…will be picketed …by adults from a “faith” based organization.

I’m all about faith.  I should get that out in the open right now.  I believe in the golden rule.  I teach my kids to live with love and treat people they way they wish to be treated.  Ask and ye shall receive – we live it, practice it, believe it.

This group has a bee in their bonnet because our high school is producing The Laramie Project.  This is a play about the brutal slaying of a gay University of Wyoming student and how it impacted an entire community.  They have a problem with the gay part of that play.  Not the beating part…and here’s the kicker.  It’s not a local church.  These “God loving souls” are driving from Topeka, Kansas to the north side of Indy because they are so offended by the content of this presentation.  We’ve been warned by the school that it’s going down…so to speak.  Maybe they can warm up by picketing one of the adult book stores along the way.  Those book stores are popping up along the interstates like rainbows in a gay pride parade.  I bet we passed 5 or 6 on I-65 south between Indy and the ABT summer intensive this summer.  No family trip is complete without a quick stop at the “Lions Den” for furry handcuffs and an X rated copy of, Woody the Wood Pecker.  OK…I’m going to hell for that.

This church must have someone who monitors the internet in search of sinners.  Talk about job security!  Seriously though how else did they find out about this play?  They must have some type of software that locates sinners using gaydar because Topeka is no where near the north side of Indy.  I Googled Topeka…yes it is now included in Google maps…just barely…but it’s there.  Topeka to Indy is 544 miles.  They also said it’s eight hours and twenty-two minutes by car.  I’m not sure how long it takes by Conestoga wagon or what ever time machine they are using.  Let me say that again, “Eight hours and twenty-two minutes away…by car”.  The twenty-two minutes are probably spent stuck in traffic on 86th St. between Meridian and Westfield Blvd.  I have a tip for all of you picketers.  Just incase you are monitoring me now that I have a kid who is going to hell for attending said high school.  You guys and gals should avoid 86th street and come around on 465 to the Keystone exit and then go west on Keystone.  After you’re done picketing there is some really great Satan free shopping at Keystone at the Crossing just east of the school.  However they do have Victoria’s Secret.  It’s common knowledge that lacy panties lead to fornication.  So you may want to avoid the North West wing of the mall.  Oh, and there is probably a gay dude or two working at the finer men’s stores because they have infiltrated the culture of our city and they know how to dress.  Now that I think about it they are probably working in the home furnishing stores too because they are great at decorating.  I guess you probably shouldn’t go to that mall unless you want another reason to picket. 

So I assume this “church” wink, wink, nod, nod teaches the quote, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Is there an unpublished part of that quote that adds, “Unless they’re gay.”  I’m not sure Jesus would have said that unless it was a different Jesus.  You know the switch hitter who played for the Astros back in ‘69. 

So why did they decide to use their resources to travel here to picket a school with a play that is staged for only one weekend?  Haven’t they ever heard of Broadway?  How about San Francisco, Key West, or any gay neighborhood in any city in the country?  I bet they really want to come to Indy for a Colts game.  If they stop to picket they can write it off as a business trip.

Scheduling the Week

September 12, 2009

I had a friend contact me last week with a business proposal.  It was a great idea, but he’s got more drama in his life than a collection of ER’s greatest hits.  With the girls back in school and ballet training every night our schedule is more choreographed than a Dance Kaleidoscope  show rehearsal.   Dealing with the drama of the day is not on my to-do list.

I need to make sure everything is organized so nothing gets overlooked.  Our dinners and the girls dance schedule are posted on the fridge Sunday evening for the week ahead.  That morning I plan the meals over coffee.  Then I go grocery shopping.  I know what we need which saves time and money.  My grocery list is built with the flow of the store in mind.  It saves time and makes shopping easy.  Then I compulsively wash my hands 50 times like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets.  Not really, but I sound like I have a compulsive disorder.  I should wash my hands after shopping though with H1N1 lurking around every corner.  Those shopping carts are probably a breading ground for the flu, scabies, and five kinds of flesh eating bacteria…sleep well tonight!  Any way, I hit Costco for the big stuff and Meijer for the other stuff.  I could take the easy way out.  We could do carry-out every night.  I have two problems with that…actually three.  (1) We live on a budget and carry-out is way more expensive than cooking.  (2) We need to eat healthy.  My girls are athletes and I like my fruits and veggies.  Carry-out is…bad.  Just shoot a wad of butter in my veins and toss the dirt over my head (3) Leftover’s make a great low cost lunch and I like them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to choke anything down just to save money.  I like cooking and leftovers. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet I have a type “A” personality.  Numbering, lists, scheduling…where’s my coffee?!  Seriously though, we as a family and a society need to eat healthy and stick to a budget.  Financial crisis…hello!  Health crisis….we’re fat!  I was thinking about this when I walked into Meijer last Sunday.  The first seven adults I saw had a combined mass slightly greater than the state of Texas make that Tex-ass.  Obviously they were all passing the produce section in search of the breaded, frozen, fried cheese sticks and dip. 

Each morning I make breakfast and lunch for the girls, ride my bike (see my last blog) exercise (me time), and start working.  At lunch I make dinner for the girls then go back to work.  Carly gets home from school at 3:30.  She grabs their dinner, & snack then leaves to pick up Grace at 4:00 and head to Jordan.   They start dancing at 4:30 and that usually goes to 9:00.  So they need to take dinner.  While they are at dance I work until about 7:00.  Then I clock out and hit our veggie garden, other yard work, or other domestic stuff.  When they get home it’s time to hit the books.  I write my blog or unwind with them until 10:00.  So you see I have no time for someone else’s drama.  It just drags you down.  At some point I call my wife to catch up with her, tell her fun stuff like I was hit on at the grocery …by a guy.  That wasn’t on my to-do list either.  At forty-eight years old I’m flattered that anyone is attracted to me, but if I had my choice I’d rather be propositioned in the produce section by a well educated woman who snuck home to surprise her husband with fresh strawberries and candles. That would be great, sadly it’s not on my to-do list either…until this weekend.  She didn’t buy the strawberries or candles I did.  Some times it’s good to lose the list, unplug the clock, and let the people you love know they are appreciated.

Death Insurance

July 9, 2009

My wife and I have been together over twenty years.  We have a running joke that if one of us dies suddenly the other was going to use a little of the insurance money to morn our loss from the beaches of Hawaii.  When she started grad school I took a look at our finances and said, “If you died in school there won’t be enough left over to party on the beach because of your student loans.  We need to increase our life insurance.”  She felt that I presented that info in an insensitive way.  So I gave her a flower, took her hand, looked at her lovingly, and said, “If you die in school there won’t be enough insurance money left to party on the beach after I pay off your student loans.”  Like any good grad student she digested the data and drew a conclusion, then scoured the house for cyanide capsules.  After about a week she came over to my way of thinking and we began the process of shopping for additional coverage.  We decided not to stay with AIG, our original policy holder, because they were in Hawaii attending a “seminar” when we called.

 Conducting a physical is part of the application process.  My friend says it’s because I’m old.  I said, “I’m under fifty.”  He said, “You’re old”.  We agreed to disagree.  The nurse came to my home July third.  She started with an interview.  She learned that I don’t smoke, I eat healthy, I’m 6’ tall, and 174 lbs.  I’m a Capricorn….wait…wrong interview.  I exercise, I have a strong pulse, and my blood pressure is great.  I know how to pee in a cup and I know how to breathe without even thinking about it.  She asked me if I’d ever done any drugs not prescribed by a doctor.  I admitted to smoking pot when I was younger.  She laughed and said, “Who hasn’t”!  I felt good about being honest.  I’d never answered that question truthfully.  Then I asked, “How many people answer that question honestly?  She laughed and said, “Almost no one.”  I knew right then I was screwed.  She said, “Since you answered yes there are some supplemental questions I need to ask”.  Like have I ever done heroin, (because marijuana is a gateway drug!) and thirty-two other drugs.  Seriously!  The list was three columns wide and three inches tall.  I’m glad I didn’t disclose that this policy was facilitated because I wanted to “party” on the beach when my wife dies.  I could tell that honesty was not the best policy.  When dealing with insurance companies, lie like a crook.  Hmmm the word crook and insurance mentioned in the same sentence.  She asked me to disclose the years I smoked pot.  What was the frequency? (Kenneth)…The volume? (eleven)…My reason for stopping?  Did I enter a treatment facility?  Was I under a doctor’s care?  Really!?  Do people enter treatment centers for smoking pot?  Do you suppose Keith Richards kicked all of his drug issues by himself, except for that nasty pot habit?  I’m sure he needed a doctor supervised twelve step program for that one!  I guess I should also disclose that I attended concerts.  I laughed at Cheech & Chong.  I owned a tie die shirt and I believed that free love was a great concept even though I was in elementary school during the sixties.  So I was too young to partake.  I think it is also important to say I never knew Art Linkletter’s daughter.  So I did have boundaries.

 There is a space at the bottom of the “supplemental” form where I could leave comments.  I felt like writing, “Would you rather hear me say, “I didn’t inhale”? – get over it.”   We are still waiting to find out if I’m accepted.  By the way, my wife answered, “No” to the pot question.  She digested the data and drew a conclusion.

Entitlement

March 31, 2009

People are up in arms over the sense of entitlement in this country these days.

What does that mean?  Entitlement?  Attorneys feel entitled to charge us hundreds of dollars an hour to explain exactly what we are entitled to.  I suppose they have that right.  After all they went to school to learn the language and how to sew it into an abstract tapestry that only law professionals understand.  We outsiders are intimidated by that knowledge and the vagueness of their language.  We only know that law is like art…you get what you pay for.  We can go to the galley and by a Monet, or we can go to the Holiday Inn and buy a piece of crap from the starving artist sale.  Who do you want representing your interests a master, or some guy who works for food?

My ex business partner, Dennis, felt that he was entitled to $30,000.00 in our business account one hour after I terminated him as the manager of our company.  The police were entitled to uphold the law.  However they felt their resources were better spent on criminals who use guns to steal, rather than a tie and pen.  So I was entitled hire someone who is fluent in legalese and represent my position in court.  Dennis was entitled to stall.  The day before our court date he signed papers that released him of his entitlement to ownership in our company.  I waved bye-bye to a bunch of money. All I was trying to do was prove that he took my cash!  Cash I was entitled to!  White collar crime pays.

Now if I were AIG or any of the other mega businesses who squandered millions recently I could recover financially by using tax payer money.  There would be no pain or interest to pay. only the momentary embarrassment of sitting before a congressional committee.  This committee is made up of a bunch of people who speak “the language”.  They have the combination to our safe.  They have permission to invest or spend our money.  They know that we choose to use most of our time following football, eating wings, and buying shiny objects on credit because we are entitled to.  They also know we like magic.  They understand that we are captivated and amazed when David Blaine takes a diamond off a woman’s engagement ring and makes it reappear in the corner of his eye from his tear duct.  They realize that time heals all wounds.   Let’s face it, as a group we have the attention span of a fish.  So they scold the company executive and write him a check.  Then they pull a rabbit out of their hat come election time.  We ooh and ahh and clamor for more.  We can’t be bothered with the notion that our government should be run like a business and that there be ….oh…I don’t know…accountability?  That’s for other people to deal with. 

The problem for the big company execs and others involved in this ordeal comes after the Super Bowl.  There is a dry spell of sports on TV.  We have a little more time to pay attention.  This is how it happens:  Some parent who home schools their kids in Omaha writes a blog questioning where the AIG money is going.  That blog is read by a relative in Ft. Wayne who passes it to a friend in NY and it goes viral.  The next thing you know, the Times is running it as a feature story.  The network news grabs it.  They do an investigative series.  They advertise the series between a Seinfeld rerun and American Idol.  Everyone sees it because…It is American Idol.  Now everyone is pissed….as we are entitled to be.  Until mid April when it’s time to work on our pre tan before the start of Summer Vacation.  Pre tanning prevents burning.  Who in this day and age wants to get burned?