Traditions grow out of the cracks

My wife and I usually get the Christmas tree just after her birthday, which is on the 8th. As the shelf life of a tree is about two weeks, our Tannenbaum is a certifiable fire hazard on Christmas morn.

This year, my wife and daughter bought our tree at Whole Foods. An arborist, I am not, but after looking online, it seems to have been a Leyland Cypress. A delicate tree. About six feet tall, feathery branches growing upward, zero pine fragrance.

Whole Foods, I thought. Probably not a bad place to buy a tree. They seem to care about living things. Because I am usually involved in this Christmas ritual, I asked the typical dad questions.

“How much?” $54
“Did they cut a section of the trunk off?” My wife said she didn’t know. My seven-year-old daughter was confident they did. I sensed confusion on this point.

Then my wife said something interesting. “They had the tree in water.” For 25 years, I’ve selected and purchased the Tannenbaum. I have never bought a tree in water. Turns out this was sign number one that this year’s tree would be different. Continue reading

Red Toros and the tender pain

Though a life-long suburbanite, I’ve had only two meaningful experiences with lawnmowers. 40 years separates them.

The first comes back only in short, colorful snatches. Reds and green in particular. I was seven years-old—eight at the latest. It was a Saturday in summer, and I accompanied my dad as he ran errands. One of the stops was our church. Dad was a volunteer there, and I imagine he needed something or other for Sunday duties.

A small suburban church circumscribed by grass. There was an old codger on a rider mower. It was blood red. I like to think it was a Toro, because Toros are red and the only type of mower I’ve owned. The old codger asked if I wanted to take a ride on the mower. I don’t think I really wanted to do, but to be polite… Continue reading

Courtesies of Louisville, CO

This piece originally appeared in the print edition of The Hometown Weekly, 7/12/17

Louisville has become more crowded as of late. Perhaps you’ve noticed.  People are flocking to the Front Range, whose population is projected to grow by 72% from 2010 to 2050­—and when they do—they want to land in a place like Louisville. ­Thus the developments of the North End, Steel Ranch, and the pretentious sounding DELO (downtown east Louisville).

Growth threatens the charm of Louisville. However, as Mayor Muckle said in a recent “Message from the Mayor,” it’s the quality of the residents that make a town.

When I think of a word to describe Louisville residents, “courteous” springs to mind. There are distinct acts of kindness and respect I’ve observed living here 23 years. Continuing in these will help keep the ineffable charm of Louisville intact, regardless how much surrounding areas grow. Continue reading

Memorable Shoeshine

In my late teens, I began work as a vocal soloist at various Christian Science churches in the Phoenix area. This step into Classical music required that I buy a few suits and two pair of dress shoes. One black, one cordovan.

My dad, no doubt noticing the state of my shoes, sat me down in the living room one Saturday afternoon. He had his shoeshine kit alongside. Continue reading

An S2000 goes to Costco

A condensed version of this piece appeared in the February 2017 print edition of Grassroots Motorsports.

Love makes decisions for you. Just a smidge below God and family, I love sports cars and high-performance driving. Let me clarify: I love lightweight, rear-wheel drive sports cars. And must have one that serves as both daily driver and track buddy.

No small choice, really. It affects the places I go, how I go and with whom. Sometimes, it decides whether I do something or not. Love clarifies. Especially during Colorado winters. Continue reading

Locking up the house at night: the pleasure of ancient obligation

Not sure exactly why, but one of the more satisfying actions I perform, as a husband and a father, is locking up the house at night. About nine or so, I slump downstairs and check the slider and then the garage and then the front door. I don’t have obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet I often go back and double- or triple-check the doors, even though I distinctly remember locking them. Sometimes I’ll stare at the locked front door a good three seconds to make sure it won’t unlock itself. You never know.

Odd, yet satisfying. Continue reading

Love out of season: a sports car in winter, pt.1

Winter is tough on the sports car traditionalist. I live in Colorado, in an Audi neighborhood no less. Fellow residents roar past my house, blowing rooster tails of snow as if the very last thing they are concerned about is braking for the upcoming two-way stop. I feel jealous and impotent watching them. Damn them and their Quattros.  Continue reading

Scion FR-S communes with nature

At least once a year, I get up quite early and drive Trail Ridge Road, which cuts through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. The road rises to an elevation of 12,183 feet. The highest continuously traveled road in the States.

Boogeying through the Park before it’s technically open is like a ride in Disney Land, except you’re in nature and in complete control.

Scion contemplates sunrise.

Long sweeper at 12,000 feet. Massive. Sublime.

Sun is well up. Time to head down to reality.

Memory of a Mercedes diesel

When I was fourteen (a time when powerful machines hold a religious fascination), my dad bought a new Mercedes turbo diesel sedan, our family’s first luxury car. At dusk on the day he bought it, he picked me up from football practice, and echoing off the side of the high school stadium was the idling of its idiosyncratic engine: a pulsing and metallically resonant “chiga-chiga-chiga-chiga-chiga,” similar to the pant of a dog after a summer romp, only snarkier and quicker in tempo. The sound is slowly becoming extinct. Still, a few times a year, the old, steadfast diesel pulls along side me at a light, and, in its panting fashion, reminds me of how it carried my dad and me around leathery Scottsdale in the mid ‘80s, one summer taking us so far as the White Mountains. It reminds me how, within our full house of five boys, it provided my dad and me a sumptuous, private space and conversation piece all our own.

Image Credit: Israel