Two stories, two photos

Christmas Night, our place, we needed another activity, so I called for the gingerbread kit and set Grampa Dave and Oma Barbara to work on it with Orion.

Orion didn’t really want to get his fingers gooey with the frosting mortar, but he did help with the gumdrop decorations. It would be a great vlog for Bre Pettis at Buy two kits and discover the thrill of rushing into the project willy-nilly with the first one.

Imagine building a house of cards with honey on your fingers. Now make it an A frame cottage.

Take the second kit and start on a styrofoam base with toothpick-rebar butresses. Sand the edges of the gingerbread panels for flatness. Use a chalking gun to apply the frosting. Reinforce with brass machine skrews. Cover the skrew heads with gumdrops. Stuff like that. To take the fun out of it, ya know. Now wait, here’s an idea. Glue (with frosting, of course) the two roof pieces together with a hinge made from a tortilla. That would solve the main problem of the roof sliding off.

No, no, wait. How about following the directions better? You have to hold each piece in place until it stays put… for about a half an hour.


In the middle of this project, Grampa Dave had something he wanted us all to hear. He said that even Julie didn’t know. He thought it was important enough for even Bibi Betsy and Uncle Nick to hear.

He has a perfectly serious manner, and I suspected grave news. Then he announced the story as “The Reason There’s A Justin” and launched into the following:

Remember how I used to have to have this white van with a green stripe? The Bahama Mama? A Ford econoline? [Now the hooting and hollering and interrupting begins..] Well, one summer night we took a picnic basket on a drive… [more hooting, etc.] and we got to this place pretty far out that I couldn’t even find again. It was near a farm overlooking a field, I think it was a wheat field, and we got out our picnic supplies [“Oh, is that what you called ’em?” hoot-hoot]. We had some sandwiches and probably some Boone’s Farm. We were watching the stars when one of them starting moving in a funny way. [“For both of you?” hoot-hoot! Then we look at Oma Barbara. “Did you see this?” She says, “I’m not telling”] Well, it had flashing lights and was saucer shaped and descended into the field. [Trish says, “Hey, you already told me you don’t believe in UFOs!” Dave says, “We found out what it was later, so it was an Identified Flying Object, now let me finish.”]

When it flew away all that was left was a glowing orb in a ring of flattened crops. I turned and saw Barb tearing off her clothes with a glazed look in her eyes.

She said, “Make Son! Must make son while the hay shines!” [Collective groan and more hoots]


After most of the gingerbread house was done, Grampa Dave said, “This reminds me of another story…”

I was down at the boy store. You remember Howlett’s Hardware? [Me: yeah, I’m wearing the T-shirt] It’s since been bought up by a big box chain. I think it’s Bramlet’s or something.

But it was still Howlett’s then. They were having a special on clamps. You know the kind with the orange handles? [me: yeah, sure]. Well, if they every go on special you should stock up on them. So I go up to the counter with my arms full of clamps, and there’s this old geezer there in front of me. He says, “Mmm. You can never have too many clamps, toc-toc. [vocalizes with tongue]” Then he buys his stuff and leaves. I ask old man Howlett, “Who was that guy?” So he tells me, “Well, that’s Hiram. We call him Ham. He used to be the high school shop teacher. He was a gunner on a plane in World War Two and crashed in the Himalayas. He was the only survivor. He woke up in a Tibetan monastery dressed in robes to the sound of chanting and gongs. It turns out that these particular monks were master woodworkers. However, they were only used to working with hand tools. Ham was used to working with power tools. Neither spoke the other’s language. They had to invent sounds and hand signs to go with the tools they wanted. Like bang-bang for hammer [gestures hammering] and zzz-zzzz for saw [gestures sawing].”

Trish now asks, “What was the toc-toc?” Grampa Dave smiles and says, “I’m glad you asked.”

“That was the sound of Old Ham Clamping.”


2 thoughts on “Two stories, two photos

  1. pretty accurate acount of event(s)
    minor correction – van was named Fat Albert
    and was painted an unfortunate green – with 2 white
    more astute readers will recognize the color scheme
    as Michigan State’s
    I was raised in A^2 & was enrolled at Uof M
    Fat Albert was accused of treason, although charges
    were later droped when it was discovered it could be
    very useful for transporting kegs & other necessaties


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