Thursday, April 30, 2009

Woodworking, Pens

Wooden PensAdd Image

These are wooden pens that I turn on the lathe. There is a variety of wood used such as cocobolo, jatoba, maple, cherry, redheart, walnut, even osage orange or hedge as it is called in KS. I'll use just about any scrap wood that looks to have nice grain pattern just to see how it turns out. The hedge actually came out of the firewood pile. I also used trimmings from a peach tree that grows in my backyard. The wooden parts begin as 3/4" square blanks and then are drilled and turned to a cylinder. After that the parts are assembled into a writing pen.

I have made over 50 of these pens for family and friends.

Mom is Home

Mom arrived home from Mexico last night. She said it was slow getting through customs but other than that everything is OK. None of the vacationers had any problem. Although as a precaution her doctor wants her to take Tamiflu for 10 days.

She is not sick, and saw no sick people in the area she was vacationing. They did not even know there was a problem until a couple days ago. By the time they left the resorts were emptying out and the cruise lines were not coming into port so the locals were beginning to hurt economically.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Wednesday

So much easier to write updates when our son is clean. He is doing well. Meeting with his PO and taking drug tests. Whatever is motivating him I hope it remains a priority. It is hard to know the right things to do to support him so I am just living a normal life and hoping for the best. Like I said before I am done trying to guess, I will be there when he asks for help.

Mom comes home from Mexico tonight. I have a doctor appointment already booked for her. I'm going to be in trouble. There are few things she hates worse than going to the doctor. I think she needs to be tested for the virus so we know instead of guessing.

Thank you all for the compliments on the cradle. I will post other pics of other projects in the future as I have time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Woodworking, Cradle

This is one of the hobbies that help with my sanity.

This is the cradle I built for our grandaughter. It is made from walnut that was cut over 50 years ago and left to air dry in a barn. It began as rough sawn wood and was covered with dust, dirt and straw. I milled all the wood and brought it to life as a cradle. The finish is a hand rubbed teak oil with multiple coats beginning using 320 grit paper working my way up to 600 grit and finishing with a soft cloth polish. The swing is smooth due to the use of roller bearings inlaid in the uprights. If you do not wish it to swing a block was made to fit over the stretcher underneath that rests against the bottom of the bed. I made a custom mattress covered with vinyl to fit the bottom.

Just Another Weekend

Do you know how good it is to say it like that?

My son and I sat down at the kitchen table and ate dinner together, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. I cannot remember the last time that happened. The little things that seem normal to others sure are big in a persons life that lives with an addict.

Worked some more on daughters house. When it is done I will post some pictures.

Mom comes back from Mexico on Wednesday. Do you think she would be hurt if I greeted her wearing a bio-hazard suit?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How Did We Arrive Here?

Caution!!!! Open and read with care. Random rantings and thoughts. Another posting from after I have been deliberating on these last few days of his sobriety.

After this last month of our son being clean I am thinking about what has transpired. I know that a month of being clean is tenuous at best but everything has to start somewhere.

People always talk about about learning from their mistakes. I guess that may be effective for many but in my backwards way I have always had my best lessons by studying successes. Somehow the thought of browbeating the failures of my life have provided me little significant learning experiences. Of course it isn't like I ignore those colossal screwups I have been apart of but, take your medicine and move on is something I have learned in my life. My preferred method of problem solving and analyzing issues is to study successes and replicate the behaviors, methods and actions in other situations.

Looking back over this month I see a change in our son's determination. Every day I have my doubts and reservations but his life and choices are his. The question then becomes what truly is my role? Too many years in human resources, I'm looking for my job description. I guess my job is simply the last line of most all job descriptions, "and other duties as assigned."

In this past month I have done a lot of self examination and a lot of questioning. Questioning of myself and him. Before my questioning was done as an accusation and I think this was more to make me feel better without regards to creating more damage in an already damaged area. Hell, 90% of the time I already knew the answer before I ask the question. There is no value to that. It's time to look at what is effective and has worked and replicate that, there is no excuse for repeating failed actions.

Another accolade to Ketch is that he told me, "It is impossible to learn from experiences that you never had." Going through this struggle with an addict is an experience I have not had, so it is more important to fall back on the learnings of all of you that have been going through this and to apply the actions and methods that have demonstrated successes in my life.

How can I help?
So much simpler than formulating an answer and developing an action plan before you even ask the question. Over the last month I have asked this question with an open mind, not with an answer already in my mind. I remind myself of my boundaries and if it doesn't fall outside of those boundaries I can do. If it is outside my boundaries I do not have to go there.

Meaningful work is important.
He doesn't have a job. We are in a bad position, we live in the outer suburbs. There is no mass transit, there are no jobs within walking distance, he has no vehicle or license. I have given him jobs. He was falling down on getting something done and I didn't berate him about doing the work, I simply ask as I would with the people I work with, "When can I expect this to be done?" I observed an energy from him I had not seen for a long time. In addition he is actually worried about his quality of work. I will pay but I know money is hard for him to handle. We have to work that out somehow but it is not a difficult issue.

Interaction in a social environment is progressive.
I had gotten to the point while he was using that I didn't want to be around him and neither did anyone else. Dad & Mom both know he is a social animal. He has been that ever since he was little, in school and everyplace. By putting him on the outside we were striking at his core but how much damage we were doing to him in the name of our own self preservation is hard to measure. My boundary now is as long as he is making progress in his actions and accepting of societies behavioral norms he should be included and accepted. I am hoping others can accept the same boundary but that is their decision and he must learn to live with that.

Hiccups are inevitable.
No one is perfect, especially an addict. Hiccups concerning behavior and actions are normal for human beings. Mistakes in judgement happen. We have to be in a position when mistakes happen we must stop and ask, "What have I learned?" Relapse is outside of my boundaries and I do not have to accept it or be there for him if I choose not to be.

Courtroom Update

Went to court yesterday and the outcome was as good as could be expected. The judge gave him one year probation to run concurrent with his existing probabtion. His current PO is giving him regular drug tests which is good.

It was my sisters birthday yesterday too. We went to dinner and as I have said we use any excuse to eat and get together. His cousins were there and he was acting really good. After dinner his cousins were going to hit some golf balls and they ask Alex to go. He went with them. Later at home he mentioned to me it was a lot of fun being included and clean.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Poll, Thank You

Thanks to all those that participated in our little fun poll. I was just trying something new. What amazed me and gave me so much appreciation were those that commented even to this poll, especially to the ones that said just keep writing.

Guess it is just the "fix it" side of me. The poll was overwhelmingly no changes needed, but I have still made a small change. It is my picture holding my granddaughter when she is less than 1 hour old. So many of you have become a part of our world I felt it only appropriate to come out of the darkness and introduce myself.

Been thinking of another blogger I read posts pictures of the food she prepares on one of her other blogs, she is talented and an artist in the kitchen. I have been thinking of posting some of my woodwooking.

ps.: 33 days and counting, plus he has court today, he is very stressed but last night stayed clean.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Updates

Our son made 30 days on Sunday. he actually came down to tell me it was 30 days and out of his mouth he actually thanked me for believing in him. Fingers crossed. But he is stressed now, he has to be in court on Wednesday.

I worked on our daughters house all weekend. It is invigorating. Especially when so many people came over to help. It is really fun when you have a lot of people working together and you can see things change quickly. We got a couple rooms painted, boxed in a beam with oak on the ceiling of the family room, some more demo of tile floors, the cabinet doors are stained, crown moulding and trim has been put up in the kitchen, all of the drawers have been installed, the garage doors are trimmed and weatherstriped, all the doors have been hung.

Mom leaves for Cozumel on Tuesday. She is going with her sister and our oldest daughter, her husband. They will be gone for 8 days. She needs the rest. The last time we went on a vacation together and left our son he got into so much trouble he is still going to court over the things he did. So this means Dad is a bachelor for a week I guess. I am planning my menus, pizza, bar-be-que and beer, well that just should about take care of a week.

Mom babysit the grandbaby all weekend while we worked. I think she got the better end of the deal. When I hold Brooke she makes me well inside.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Laws, Rules and Norms

I need to have a discussion with my son concerning behaviors. It is so difficult for me to break things down sometimes to where it doesn't sound like a lecture. I'm trying not to hurry his progression but I want him to fit society and not experience the setbacks when society doesn't meet his expectations and he is being judged as a 21 year old man and not a recovering addict.

There are times his behavior makes little sense to me, but I have learned that people do what makes sense to them at the time. I have found in my job and in life seldom do people strive to do wrong, they do what makes sense in their world. The trouble is "their world" and "the world" may be disconnected at the time or not enough information or learning is available. My struggle is how to communicate this to him.

Laws, rules and norms are something I do not feel my son has a of grasp of in his life. Obviously laws are a problem otherwise we wouldn't be going to court next week. But once again, doing what makes sense to him, he needed drugs, he had no money so the only way to get money was to violate the laws. Laws are something I feel he gets, he just makes a choice to break them and doesn't connect consequences to actions.

From my perspective, rules are definitely something he feels if they don't make sense to him, they have no impact on him. As an example, a rule is no smoking in our house and the house includes my garage and shop. If it's raining or cold he thinks it is stupid to have to smoke in the rain or get cold. If we are home he will go outside but if we are not home he obviously thinks no one will know. But as any non-smoker knows you can smell that nasty stench long after the smoke disappears.

Norms are a whole other subject that I feel are just as important but I am not sure he even recognizes. To me behavioral norms are the lubricant of society. When people act as others expect them to act, societal actions move smoothly. When a person does something that may be fully within the law and not breaking a rule but it is recognized as bizarre by others a tremendous amount of processing power is expended by those adjusting to the action. This is hard for me to put into words, I'm not trying to deal in conformity and non-conformity. It's more about meeting the expectations of yourself and others. I guess some might say, "yea, common sense" but I was awakened a long time ago that common sense is not that common.

The problem is with most of us learn these these gradually. We learn to adjust and adhere.

It seems with my son at times he works very hard to try and please and want recognition for his work. I think this is from him being so far down sometimes he is just trying to get his bearings as to what actually is up. But as he begins to move forward, and he does have interviews at Oxford Houses this Sunday, he needs to fast track his learning of these concepts. I have supervised and managed people for over 25 years. In this time I have watched as people succeed and fail just because of the struggle with rules and norms. Maybe an example would be one way of illustrating what I feel. The other night I had forgotten to sweep up under my table saw and I ask him to sweep up under my saw in the shop. He really jumped right on it and did the task. That was exactly what I ask, he swept up and left 2 piles of sawdust sitting right next to the saw. In my world sweeping up means picking up the pile, obviously in his world sweeping up is just that. I tried being patient and explaining the concept of the whole job. He thought I was picking on him and I thought it was a teachable moment. I just kept thinking of if he was working for me at my work and he was just another employee it would not be handled as a "teachable moment".

I haven't decided whether to say anything about these things to him. First I'm not really sure how or what I would say, but I know it needs to be said. Secondly, I'm not even sure he is in a place where he could do anything about it. Maybe solving my own dilemma is exercising patience.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maybe A Little Fun

This blogging thing is good. So I got to thinking maybe I ought to change the template, but as anyone that knows me will attest to, in the world of design I am really working hard to get up to the level of boring. So I need your input, what do you think, vote in the poll.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interventions Are Rough

It was our sons 21st birthday on Saturday. The day was going along fine from our perspective, we were meeting family for his birthday dinner at a restaurant. Before leaving we had to intervene in something that was most unpleasant but we are surviving.

Hoping that the old adage, "Anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger." holds true. If that is so, Dad and Mom must be some real bad asses. LOL

Things seem to be on track now, sometimes that one day at time stuff just slaps you up side the head and does a hit and run. Only thing left to do is shake it off , get up, and keep moving forward.

Talking With A Friend

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend whose son suffered long with the same addiction problems as my son. We talk of business and always we ask about each others sons. His response was that his son is now clean for 4 years. In that time there have been many jobs, court issues, a marriage, divorce and a beautiful baby in other words life happens no matter what. But just being able to say, "clean 4 years" is so uplifting for me that it is hard to describe, but then he went on to tell me that his son had just gotten acceptance letters from KU and K-State, he is applying and going to college!!!!!


I just wanted to pass this along, another nugget of hope to fuel us along.

Friday, April 10, 2009


It is good to have our son acting like he is honestly trying. It is important for dad to be patient, not one of my natural traits. I have to keep tempering my expectations to what is possible right now.

We went to dinner last night with some family, he went with us. Before we left he was very normal and relaxed. But when we left for the restaurant he began to get nervous, when he gets nervous he talks constantly. Kind of like someone at a much lower maturity level but I understand that. I just have to remind myself and be patient. If he is serious about changing he will learn. The bright spot at dinner was he minded his manners, did not wolf his food and never got up during the whole dinner. He was able to talk to his grandpa over dinner. For some of you dealing with an addicted child I'm sure you understand. As soon as we got home his nervousness subsided and he was back to normal and calm.

Dad has to keep working on himself. I must learn to live in the world of what is and not in the world of what ought to be.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Home Again

Our son is home again. Food must be really bad in jail. When he gets home anything even resembling food is a target and it takes about 2 days for him to get satisfied.

Saturday is his 21st birthday. We are trying to make plans for going out to dinner with him. I think it would be wise to keep him busy and occupied. He swears this is the real deal this time but ............ (fingers and toes crossed each day)

Easter on Sunday and everyone is coming to our house. We will have a house full of people and lots of food. Hope it doesn't rain and is warm. That way overflow we can go outside to relax and sit around the deck and koi pond.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A New Person To Help

When I got home tonight there was a message on our machine that our son had missed his appointment with his probation officer. He had left a message with his phone number and a request for him to check in. Needless to say if you are in jail it's hard to check in with a probation officer in a different jurisdiction.

Right or wrong I called the probation officer and informed him of our son's situation. He thanked me and we hung up. After thinking a while I called him back and ask him if he was interested helping. He was very agreeable and helpful. I filled him in with the entire history. He was very thankful. I told him of the difficulty getting into an Oxford House or any type of CLE. He said have your son check in as soon as he is released and schedule a visit. He also offered to call any Oxford House that is interviewing him and provide a recommendation. He also wanted to know if it was OK to call me and work together with me to help him.

I usually stay out of his business but maybe this time it will help, or who knows. I am glad I called.


No news from jail. If he is being honest then he should be 17 days clean today. Mom went through all his normal hiding places and looked for new ones. She found nothing, which sure is different. It's just a waiting game now to see if he gets released.

He missed another interview at a different Oxford House. Mom said that when he called that was what he was most upset about. But her saying on the fridge sure rings true, "It's hard to move towards the future when the past keeps dragging you back to the present."

From my point I understand he may not have used drugs for 17 days, but the way I look at it he isn't clean until all the mess is cleaned up behind him. And yes I know from all you NA and AA'ers those are later steps. But in my nature I am an action type guy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Never Ends

Well I said weekends are hard.

Saturday afternoon and I am working in the woodshop on my daughters cabinets. Son says he is going out with his friends. These are suppose to be the clean friends, who knows. Later in the evening Dad and Mom are treating ourselves to ice cream at Sonic. The phone rings and guess who is in jail again.

The story is his friend that was driving had a burned out light and got pulled over. They ran our son's name and it came back with a warrant. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to jail I go.

He wanted us to bail him for $250, we don't bail. I guess he sees a judge on Monday. Who knows? 

Friday, April 3, 2009

About The Same

It's been over a week since my last post. I guess no news is good news? But we have a weekend coming up. Weekends seem to be hard for him and us.

He has not gotten into any Oxford Houses. We take him to the interviews but there are a lot of people looking to get in and our son has no job or transportation. I can only assume that is not in his favor at all. But that is his issue to solve not mine. I have made the offer to pay a couple weeks rent and the deposit. After that he is on his own.

In a week it is our sons 21st birthday. Makes me depressed to think what he has done for the last 6 years and what he has to show for it. It is hard not to take his lack of accomplishment on myself and I work at not taking on his problems every day, I think mom has a harder time with it than I do.

I have read in other blogs that others seem to have this same issue. I have observed that it appears our son stopped maturing the minute he began using. He is turning 21 and sometimes seems to function with the maturity of someone much much younger. Is this a common thread? Social skills really seem to suffer, the ability to make small conversation, etiquette and the acceptance of social rules and norms seem to be lacking. It is hard to approach these with him because he gets very defensive about being picked on. Anyone have input or comments on these observations?