Tool Box

After 10 hernia removals in less than 5 years the doctor told me that as long as I keep doing the hard physical work, I would get more.

After enjoying the physicality of strenuous labor for most of my life it was hard to stop.  Instead of looking for work, I always had plenty.  My crew did roofing, painting, carpenter work, demolition almost anything that was labor intensive.  Seems like there isn’t much competition for hard work.

I decided to heed the doctor’s advice.  At my age it was really a “no brainer.”  I filed for Workman’s Comp.  My belly band has been cut in two so many times that my insides seemed to just slosh around.  Things being the way they are, it took me three years to finally get approved for Workman’s Comp.

When I was finally approved it wasn’t because of the hernias but because of an old back injury I received when I was just a kid, just 15 years old.  In the meanwhile, I had to sell off my equipment to survive and pay bills.  What I miss most were my two dump trucks.  One had a lift, so that I could load materials on a two story roof.

They were older models but they still worked and provided me with a means of getting the job done.  I had to sell off my fleet of pick up trucks, several air compressors, a couple miles of air hose (that’s what it seemed like), shovels, tarps, paint sprayers, just imagine and empty tool shed that was once crammed to the gills.

These were the tools that I used in my trade, to pay my way.

Being energetic most of my life, I had to find a way to earn money to replace the lost income.  My biggest tool was our home computer.  I started writing stories about my life.  That’s really all I knew to write about.  I hoped that one day I would get good enough to possibly sell some short stories.

I took typing in high school, in the Navy I was a yeoman.  I thought that I had what it takes to be successful and even if I wasn’t,  I would be sitting down and resting instead of busting my ass in the hot sun.  There was a need for me to make a new “tool box.”

Let’s see, I had the computer, what else do I need?  A thesaurus maybe?  I had to get a desk blotter to write down all the notes to myself, and then go back through the family picture album to job my memory on certain things.  For that, I needed a printer.  Since I don’t live in the best neighborhood and was inside most of the time, I got a security camera system that my son installed for me.  Now I can keep a sharp eye on my little niche in the world while I try to beat out enough stories to earn a living.

Easier said than done.  Writing the stories wasn’t hard.  It seems I have led a life and a half already.  Now the editing, that’s a different story.  If I spent two hours writing, it seemed like it took twice that to edit, maybe more.  Once you put it down in print and reread it, you can always go back  to try to improve it and that takes more editing.

Everything became time consuming and the money just wasn’t coming in.  I thought that I needed more tools for my literary tool box.  I joined writer’s websites, I got a blog site to practice on unknown reader’s, then I looked for sites that advertised for new writer’s and new stories.

All the meanwhile the bills weren’t getting paid, I would have to sell off one of my cherished tools for fractions of what they were worth.  It got depressing, not to mention I got fat, sitting on my duff.

One day my grand daughter who was living with me at the time asked me for a kitten.  Her mom was in jail (not sure why), but I had spent 4000 dollars to keep her out of jail last time.  This time I didn’t have it to spend.  My son said he would raise his daughter while his girlfriend served her time.  What he really meant was that his parents would raise his daughter while her mother served her time.

Getting back to the kitten, I was visiting some friends in Georgia.  Their cat had had kittens, he was a Himalayan.  At the time I didn’t know one breed from another.  They gave me one.  I gave them a hundred bucks, which they graciously refused.  I left it on the coffee table.

My grand daughter Claire loved her kitten.  She could get that cat to do things that were unbelievable.  She could be seen pushing a baby stroller with a cat inside, all dressed up like a little baby.  What a pleasant sight, to see such a happy child.  You couldn’t put a price on it.  It was priceless.

Claire’s Mom got out of prison.  She would come and get Claire for a day or an evening and then bring her back.  She and my son had gone separate ways but we were still her grand parents.  Then it got to where she would be gone a month at at time.  When she came home, first thing Claire wanted was her kitten.  Well this kitten was now a cat.  A big beautiful feline.

Claire cried, she wanted a kitten.  Well Kosmo was beautiful a real heart warmer.  One of the neighbors had moved off and left their female Siamese.  Kosmo was infatuated with her and we soon had Claire another batch of kittens.

Baby’s Mama drama stuff, Claire was in and out for a year or so.  Once the kittens started getting some size to them, I put them on Craigslist for 50 bucks apiece.  They were gone in an hour.

The next time we got to see Claire we had a new batch of kittens, she was ecstatic.  Just what she wanted.  She cried every time she had to leave them.  The ones she got close to last time were gone but she focused her attentions on the ones we had.  After she left, I ran another ad on CL.  I got to thinking, the last ones sold pretty fast.  Maybe I should go up on the price, to $150 and see what happens.

They were all gone the same day I posted them.

I googled Rag Doll kittens after I saw two of Martha Stewart’s on TV one day.  She said she paid over $5,000 apiece for them.  As I watched the show, I got interested.  I said to myself,  “Hey, her kittens look just like my kittens.”  I google what’s the average price for a Rag Doll?

I was shocked, wow, I can use that kind of money.  The tool shed was getting bare.  Times were hard.  Also, Claire’s mom decided she wanted to start a new life and didn’t want her daughter to be around us or anyone that knew about her old ways.  We didn’t get to see Claire much at all at first.  Now, none at all.

Looking for a means to earn some money and still waiting to hear about my disability pay, I decided to try and expand on the kitty income.  I kept three females.  Thinking this would help.  This endeavor meant I needed more tools and a different kind of tool box.

The Fire Dept. across the street is a training grounds for new firemen.  They keep the light on all night and put their uneaten chow out for the strays.  The was a draw for all the neighborhood cats to gather at night.  My male Kosmo would go over in search of a new girlfriend or two.  When he wasn’t at the front door in the mornings, I just figured he was down the street and would return, eventually.  It never happened.  I walked over to the Fire Dept. to ask if anyone had seen my cat.  A female EMT took me to one side and said that a couple of the guys were admiring my cat and decided to throw a blanket over him and put him in the trunk of one their cars.

She told me this on the promise that I wouldn’t mention her telling me.  This was two weeks later.  I didn’t know how to tell the fire chief my plight without mentioning the lady.  I just figured, he’s gone.

My tool box was practically empty again.  I searched on line and got another male.  The kind folks I got him from had a female that didn’t match their group.  That’s where I got Pepsi.  My other cats were Seal Point (Siamese looking), but Pepsi is a Blue Lynx point (with the striped face).

My new male had a harem when he come to live with us.  I didn’t want him to suffer the same fate.  I built a back porch onto the house.  We named it Kitty Heaven.  It has walkways and hiding places suitable for cats.  I put shades on the outside to block the sun and installed a shade of plastic that I could roll up and down for bad weather.

More tools? You bet.  I needed a Vet.  Someone who wouldn’t overcharge me and who’s location wasn’t far off.  I found Dr. Swanson in Callahan.  My cats and kittens aren’t sickly but just like children they can get sick and need proper medical care.  Also it boosted my sales to provide them with proper shots and vaccinations.

I went up on my price a few more times at the Vet’s urging.  Now I can afford him and the light bill too.  Craigslist doesn’t allow animal sales so I found a site named Hoobly.  Hoobly was the answer to my prayers.  People from all over the world started sending me messages about my kittens.  A man from Bangkok bought two of my solid white kittens.

I noticed the guys at the Fire Dept. shooting a bow at an improvised target one evening.  The next day, my new male Shorty was in a ditch with a hole in his side, about the size of a quarter.  He survived.  I crossed the street to express my feelings.  I don’t know if it did me any good but I didn’t lose another male to the Fire Dept.  Shorty lived for about two more years.

The more kittens/cats I got the more tools I needed.  Feeding dishes, I found out that it’s not good to feed cats out of plastic bowls, they get kitty acne.  I searched Google when I had a behavior problem.  That helped.  I got all the females their own personal bedding.

Cats have kittens 3 times a year.  It wasn’t long before Kitty Heaven started being Kitty Hell.  I needed more room.  I built a closed in room on the front side of the house and made it deluxe.  The walls are covered with vinyl siding to make it easier to keep clean.  I got the high dollar vinyl flooring, easier to keep clean. They have more cubby holes and places to run and hide, than I’ve got cats.

Now I was finally earning enough money to keep up with the bills.  My Disability started coming in, about half of what I expected.  Things were getting better, much better.  I shopped at Sam’s Club so I could get salmon and tuna at a better price.  One of my cats, Bunny won’t eat anything but deli sliced oven roasted turkey.  I was getting cereal in the 50 lb. bag.  Every Thursday, I would get two rottisserie chickens for them a treat.  Speaking of treats, I am using a large container of Kitty Treats every other day (30 ounce).

Litter boxes is what every one hates about cats.  They have to be cleaned everyday.  I have 11 litter boxes.  My Dad was a multi millionaire when he died.  His new wife arranged it so that my brothers and I didn’t get a dime.  I think my Dad would be proud that I found a way to make a living off of “cat shit.”

Back to my story.  I’m off of disability now, that has been some years back.  I got to missing my old tool box and the toys I had, that everyone else call “tools.”  One by one, I started to replace some of the things I had given up.

Since my wife likes to garden and she is very good at it, I decided to try to make her some “yard art” to compliment her efforts.  Bird houses, wishing wells, many things to fill up the empty spots between the flower groups.  I started to post our projects on line.

It wasn’t long after that, that I started getting calls, e mails and messages.  Hey My roof is leaking can you come look at it? Or the guys they already paid have run off and didn’t finish the job or I’ve been waiting on my brother to do this or that for two years.

Time for another tool box.  I soon got a request from an old realtor friend to fix up a rental she had to resell.  She sold it within a week after I finished, for a big profit.  I had bought a new paint sprayer, a popcorn gun, different types of saws, nail guns, compressors, pressure washer, screw guns, on and on.  I finally got my tools back. Most of them anyway.

One job leads to the next.  I don’t do the heavy duty work nowadays, I leave that for someone else. I started building screened in rooms and decks.  One lady had me replace the windows in her hundred year old house and replace the siding.  Just working about a half a day, I managed to get it done. The paydays now, are a lot better than they used to be.

I am still waiting to get paid for writing stories, it just hasn’t happened yet.  They say that if you just write for money, you are wasting your time.  The time I spent in front of the computer, typing and editing allowed my body to heal, did pay off though.  I am a lot more active than I have been in a long time.  The hernias have been in my rear view mirror for a long while.  Ms. Joan called me with another house to remodel and she really overpaid me this time.  She had just moved back from California and I think she paid me what folks get paid out there.

I guess the dump trucks for me, are a thing of the past. Besides paying my bills, I took the money I’ve made and bought my son a truck and me a riding lawnmower.  I spent all this time writing about my cats but let me tell you at age 67 after getting my first riding lawnmower, I’ve found that it is true what they say.  “Nothing runs like a Deere.”

 

 

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