Chop wood, carry water

There is a well-known trumpet player named Rick Braun. Although a few years younger, he was born in the same city and went to the same high school as my dad. And if my memory serves, they were in high school at the same time and at least knew of each other. My dad played the trumpet in high school, even performing in a band. Many year ago, my dad saw Braun somewhere—a concert I think—and had a chance to speak with him. The story goes that my dad said something complimentary about Braun’s ability and talent. (Yes, this is all hearsay.) Braun’s reply? “What a lot of people mistake for talent is simply a lot of hard work.”

At Time in the nineteen-fifties, the entry-level job for writers was a column called Miscellany. Filled with one-sentence oddities culled from newspapers and the wire services, Miscellany ran down its third of a page like a ladder, each wee story with its own title—traditionally, and almost invariably, a pun. Writers did not long endure there, and were not meant to, but just after I showed up a hiring freeze shut the door behind me, and I wrote Miscellany for a year and a half. That came to roughly a thousand one-sentence stories, a thousand puns.

~ John McPhee from,

John McPhee is a stellar writer. He’s written a lot and, okay, sure, I get that. There are greatest-of-all-time musicians I’ve heard of who still do scales daily 30 years on. And McPhee wrote a thousand puns(!), a thousand titles, and a thousand one-sentence stories cut-down from larger stories. (And go read McPhee’s article right now, about omission.) And now here’s Braun’s comment. Frankly, I’ve heard this sentiment countless times in countless variations: The path to mastery? Chop wood, carry water.

The thing I’m not certain of though, from my dad’s story, is whether the takeaway for him was, “Oh cool, Braun’s just a regular guy who worked really hard!” or “Fudge, I shoulda’ stuck with the trumpet!”


Hobie poetry

Soul Sailer

Hobie Cat, Hobie Cat, where are you bound?
Silently streaking over the sound.
Your sails standing high,
Proudly contrast the sky,
It’s not just a boat;
I know it can fly!

When she gets up to speed,
She’ll sing you a song.
But if you’re weak in the knees,
You’d best not go along.
For there’s always a thrill,
And sometimes a spill!
Hobie Cat, Hobie Cat – go where you will!

The world that we know
dwindles down to size
on the shoreline behind us.
We sail along on the song that
is the wind.

~ Bruce W. Constantine

To the best of my knowledge, this is the only piece of poetry my father wrote. Whatever possessed him to pick up a pencil and write this, I’ll never know. However, I would bet that it was the result of long hours chatting with one of his sailing buddies until they had it down pat; Followed by him writing it out. I see no errors or erasures, and I know his handwriting well enough to suspect that he simply wrote it out straight through. The last verse – oddly indented – looks like it was written separately, or at least later than the first two verses. I think it’s the better of the three, and I fear it might be a song lyric… but I’m not searching the ‘Net because I like the idea that he wrote it.


1979 Cruising Permit

In 1979, my mom and dad, and their friends the Hollisters, started a long-time tradition of chartering bare-boat sailboats in the Caribbean.

As I’ve been working my way through things I kept from the house, I recently got to scanning this cruising permit which my father had always kept framed on the wall near his work bench.

To all whom these presents may come
know all men that by
the powers vested in me by the Government
of the Virgin Islands
Bruce Constantine
Master of the Vessel Kona Kai
with his gallant crew of 4
is entitled peacefully to cruise and enjoy
the waters, beaches and reefs
of these blessed islands
from the 18 day of Nov 1979
to the 25 day of Nov 1979


North Atlantic and Mediterranean

Apropos of Veterans Day, here’s a dozen 35mm slides my father took in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean in 1965.



USS Furse (DD-882/DDR-882) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Lieutenant John H. Furse USN (1886–1907).

My father served aboard as a fire control technician (as in “gun fire”); He operated a radar tracking and guidance system which controlled the targeting of the ships guns. At other times (I believe “special sea and anchor detail” being the correct parlance) he was tasked as a “phone talker” which generally entailed following a half step behind the officer of the deck (i.e., the officer commanding the ship at any given moment) and relaying communications through a microphone and headset he was wearing. (So if the Captain wants to single up all lines, he can simply say, “fo’c’s’le, bridge, single up.” and the ever-present, invisible sailer repeats it into the phones.)

Anyway. Here is a small collection of photos my father took of USS Furse.

Some of my readers are salty dogs, and will wonder how a sailor took photos of his own ship under way. During a Mediterranean cruise, Furse exchanged some sailors with a French destroyer during joint maneuvers.


Cat Island to Miami

Way back in 1980, my dad arranged to help a friend (a navy buddy if I recall correctly) named Drew move his yacht from Cat Island (in the Bahamas) to Miami.

It was as much a vacation for us, as it was us helping Drew and his wife move their boat. We took a commercial flight to Nassau and spent a day or two there. From Nassau, we took this little charter plane to Cat Island… which is just a spit of sand with nothing on it other than a tiny “runway”. From there we sailed the 200+ miles to Miami.

To make the “crossing”, my dad and Drew had to stay up in shifts sailing through the night. Although it does take some attention to detail to navigate, the real concern is that the area is thick with commercial shipping and the “rule of gross tonnage” suggests it is unwise to assert right-of-way (any sailing vessel has the legal right-of-way over any powered vessel.) So we prudently dodged enormous ships who couldn’t see us (visually) and probably didn’t care even if they did notice us on radar (via Drew’s radar reflector.) Anyway.

Do I remember anything in particular? Absolutely. I remember staying up all night, on the open sea, in the pitch black. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face… nothing but star-light. And the stars… The constellations looked to fall out of the sky onto your head.


Hobie 16 Mast Photography

In 1977, Bruce Constantine and Rick Hollister took these photographs using a mast-mounted camera on a Hobie 16.

These guys were fast friends from high school, and Rick was a wizard at machining, model making, and miniature domithinguses. Rick built a camera mount for the Hobie Cat mast complete with remote controls.

The Cat in the photo is my dad’s, hull number 7557. Rick had hull number 718, and I’m guessing they used my dad’s Cat because it had tricolor sails; Rick’s 718 was a snappy, all-white. (At the time, these tricolors were the MOST colorful you could get. So my dad named her “Spectrum.”)

Bruce passed away in 2011, and Rick passed away in 2012. And particularly poignant, Hobart Alter just passed away on March 29, 2014.

Bragging rights

First in the world! These guys did this in 1977. Nearly 40 years ago. Bring it Internet; Who did this before ’77?

These Cats — these specific two Cats — were tuned. Noone, and I mean NOONE ever beat them on boat speed. Yes, these guys raced them for realsies. (Hat tip to Jim and “Budda”!) If memory serves, Rick was a better yachtsman, and used to beat my dad on average.

Tuned? We’re talking about: file-shaped rudder trailing edges, tuned battens (i.e. sanded specifically to control how and where they flexed to control the sail shape), altered rigging mast-attachment-height, extended tracks for jib/main sheets, adjustable mast rake. FAST. I was told they once pulled a water skier. From a standstill.

In later years, my dad and I used to go sailing for fun, and other Hobie 16s — Hobies with SIX-digit sail numbers would slide over to say hello. We regularly met Hobie sailors who’d think we had lost numbers from our sail. Anyway. These newbs would slide up on us as we’re farting around. My dad would snicker quietly, and then yell, “Go!” So they’re already up to speed, moving faster than us. We’d flatten out on the trampoline, tweak this, adjust that, and SPECTRUM would smoke. their. NEWBY. ASS*S!

Bonus round: My dad used to say he had a drink with Hobie Alter at a bar. (But now I’m just showing off.)

I need to start writing my memoirs. I think I just might…


Slide scanning

…2,600, (give or take a few hundred) mounted slides scanned!

Recently, I’ve been talking about my slide scanning project. I’ve been pouring hours and hours into feeding the slide scanner… it was like Little Shop of Horrors, “feed me Scan-more!!” for days on end. Except for a short stack of problem slides, I’ve completed the heavy lifting.

I’ve found hundreds of slides that I want to share. Stay tuned!

Aside: Where am I putting the digital files? My little Mac file server has a two drive RAID. On that Mac I run Arq, (which I highly recommend.) Arq backs-up all my stuff into Amazon’s Glacier. Glacier is dirt cheap storage; I mean dirt. cheap. They charge you a reasonable fee if you ever retrieve data from the storage service. (Get it? “glacier”. Frozen in ice, never to be used again. Unless you have a disaster, then you won’t care about a few hundred to defrost your data.)


Model Trains Display Case

Part One

Many people have asked about “the trains”; If you knew my father, then you know that most of the 20×30 upper room in the garage was a model railroad. This is but a tiny glimpse of what he created.

I saved only a few pieces of rolling stock from the train layout before we sold the house. These now have a permanent home in this little display case in my office.

“Model railroad” as in: It was a model. Of a railroad. Not “toy trains” by any stretch of the imagination. He took the rolling stock apart, rebuilt them, detailed them (rust, markings, dull coat so they aren’t shiny plastic, etc), added little people, scratch built buildings, setup little scenes all over the railroad, little guys in rowboats fishing, people on benches, everything lit and remote controlled. You could run multiple trains at the same time, assemble trains in the yard, stage them out of sight… so a train rolls by and then you don’t see it again, and then a different train appears a few minutes later.

Some of the details in the photo: There are “live load” logs on the flat cars — if I get ambitious I could add the tie down cables to the logs. The ore cars (the short brown ones) have properly colored and scale-sized loads… he sifted “speedy dry” (like cat litter, but for cleaning up oil) into different tiny grain sizes, then spread it out and spray painted it, in batches of different colors, then mixed it back together… So it looks like the iron ore that goes in the cars in real life. Then he individually relabeled the 30, (40? I didn’t count) ore cars so they all have unique numbers and markings. Every piece of rolling stock was converted to Kadee couplers — which look and act like real train couplers and can be remotely decoupled with magnets hidden in the track. He would replace the tires (the part that rides on the rails) with metal ones if the kits had inferior plastic ones. He’d add weight to cars to make them move more realistically on the layout. And on and on.

30 years of work.


A Duck Tape Story

IMG_0908Hi there!

Some time ago my wife, Terry and I prepared for a few days vacation aboard a friend’s boat. On a similar previous trip, Terry had done all the packing and we arrived with way too much baggage. This became readily apparent when I discovered she had brought along, for herself, nine (9) white sweaters… to Florida.

She argued, one was a top, one was a shell, one was beige, and another off-white, etc. There was not a lot of storage room aboard the boat and we had to share the space allotted us.

So this time, while Terry packed, I supervised saying, “Don’t take this. Why are you taking that? Are you sure you need these?” Finally she said, “Pack your own stuff! I’ll pack mine. You pack yours.” OK. I was determined to show just how light I could travel.

Fast forward to our arrival. We climb aboard and exchanged greetings. I was intensely proud of the fact that I had only one small bag. We quickly got underway and started cruising. However, the boat was sailing only a short time when a minor disaster struck. I split my pants! Big time! My well-worn, soft, comfortable jeans tore open in front at the crotch. The tired cloth had separated thread by thread, and once the tear started, the entire area opened exposing my wildly colored skivies! Everyone laughed hysterically, (except me.) Finally Terry says, “For goodness sake, go change your pants. You’re an embarrassment. Put on your other jeans.” I say, “What other jeans? I only brought these.” Everyone laughed hysterically, (except me.) One of our friends disappeared below, and returned with a giant roll of Duck Tape. “Here. Seasoned boaters never leave the dock without Duck Tape!” while placing a large piece across the front of my pants. Everyone laughed hysterically, (except me.)

But this gave me an idea. I went below, took off my tattered pants, turned them inside out, pushed the cloth back together and criss-crossed several pieces of Duck Tape on the inside. I smoothed the tape carefully, put my pants on and returned topside. All were amazed at the nearly invisible repair. Everyone laughed hysterically, (including me.) The repair lasted for the rest of the trip! Duck Tape saved my vacation!

Fast forward to the present. These days we have our own boat and I always carry a fresh roll of Duck Tape and, oh yes, an extra pair of pants.

~ Bruce Constantine

Yes, this type of tape was originally used to seal up DUCTS, and is generally called “duct tape.” However, this story is about the brand name, “Duck Tape.” My father wrote this intending to mail it as a submission to a “Duck Tape Saves the Day” contest. So there.


A Mile Too Far


Al and I sprawled in the cockpit of “Golly Gee,” our chartered Landfall 43. We were both exhausted.

“This boat is a mess,” I said.

“Real pig sty,” Al commented unenthusiastically.

It was clear we had reached a low point in our vacation. Our energy was drained from the long day it had taken us to sail the 55 or so miles from the French island of Guadeloupe to the British island of Antigua. Also, we had made the serious mistake of skipping lunch since no one felt salty enough to go below while sailing hard on the wind. Furthermore, I had not adequately compensated for leeway and we reached our land fall about two miles down wind. Motoring directly into the big seas for the last two miles didn’t help matters any. Add to this, an anchoring drill worthy of real landlubbers, and it becomes obvious why our spirits were so low.

The smell of hot soup drifted into the cockpit from below. I suddenly realized just how hungry I was. When my wife, Terry, called, “it’s ready,” we moved without hesitation toward the galley. About halfway through the meal I silently promised myself that tomorrow we were not going to skip lunch, even if we had to pack lunch in the morning before getting underway.

After supper, and a short rest below, I returned to the cockpit and looked around picturesque English Harbor at sunset. There was no wind now and yachts anchored around us sat motionless on the glass-like water. Lights were beginning to flicker on and send shimmering reflections across th surface. I could feel my spirits and energy level returning. Our yacht still needed to be squared away, so I set about the task; cover the compass, coil the sheets and halyards, stow the life jackets, rig chafing gear to the anchor line. Al came topside with the sail cover in his arms and, without speaking, we began to wrestle the stiff cloth over the main sail. As we worked in silence, my thoughts drifted back to the events of the day.

Actually, we had made the long sail in excellent ime. Sailing with reefed main and storm jib, we still managed a speed of eight knots in the stiff wind, which I estimated to be about twenty five knots with higher gusts. I wished I had taken the time to gauge the wind accurately with the “windicator” I had brought along, but at the time, the huge waves demanded constant attention at the helm. Even though the yacht performed well in those conditions, the apprehension expressed by Terry seemed to be contagious and soon had everyone nervous. In retrospect, it seemed to me that sailing for hours with that uneasy feeling caused more fatigue than the physical work involved. Tomorrow would be another long day of sailing since our charter was nearly over, and we were still a long way from Parham Harbor, where we started. The many reefs along our path would require careful… no, meticulous navigation. Most everyone enjoys coastal cruising with gorgeous tropical scenery but, I worry more about reefs than big waves.

The next day dawned bright and sunny with puffy cumulus clouds moving high over head. Most of the harbor was quiet and still, except for one dinghy motoring slowly toward shore; its wake sending endless ripples across the otherwise undisturbed water. On shore, the restored government buildings created the illusion that we had somehow traveled backward through time to an era of greater simplicity. I could almost see square-rigged sailing ships against the city dock. The trials and tribulations of the previous day seemed insignificant now, and well worth enduring, in  light of this spectacular tropical splendor.

We went ashore early with all our documents to find the customs officer. We located him near the docks, but he told us we were to wait on our yacht, and he would come out to board and check us through. So we all did an about-face and returned to the dinghy to ride back. In a short time, the customers officer did come alongside in his boat. After exchanging cordial greetings we went below and began the paper work. We showed him our ship’s papers, passports, and cruising permit while filling out several forms. He was very official in appearance and manor, but his big smile and friendly attitude made us all feel at ease.

“Sign here, keep this copy, and give this to the immigration officer.”

“The immigration officer? Where do I find him?” I asked.

“In the police station. The yellow building beyond Nelson’s Dock Yard,” was the answer.

We exchanged cordial farewells, shoved off the customs boat, and began to collect our passports and other papers in preparation for going ashore again. We boarded the dinghy, started the outboard, and set off once more for the city dock. Al drove the dinghy a little faster this trip. Perhaps his thoughts were on the many sea miles we still had to cover before the day’s end. Mine were. With the dinghy secured, our landing party began walking through the dockyard in the direction of the police station. Some natives were setting up there stands at the local flea market. Though it was still early, it was hot, so when the girls stopped to look through some dresses and tee shirts, I bought an almost cold soft drink from a vendor with a cooler. As I sat in the shade, Al took some pictures of our yacht anchored across the harbor. The girls returned with packages, and immediately began to compare their latest shell jewelry and tee shirts. Having finished all this, we were at last ready to move on, except that Al’s wife, Brenda, had to stop and take some pictures of our yacht anchored across the harbor. Parham Harbor sure wasn’t getting any closer.

The police station finally came into sight. We walked into the main room which contained one front counter and nothing else. There was no one in sight. We stood around talking louder than necessary for a few minutes and even faked a loud cough or two hoping to attract someone’s attention. At last a slender fellow in street clothes shuffled into the room and noticed us with some surprise.

“May I help you?”

“Yes,” I responded. “We would like to see the immigration officer.”

Without saying a word the man walked slowly out of the room and was gone for some time. When he did come back, he handed us a form and began to leave the room.

“We already have this form,” I said, showing him the filled-out papers the customer officer had given us. He looked briefly at the papers and left the room again. Be patient I told myself, knowing from experience there was no way to speed up this process. The man returned, this time with another man wearing a uniform-type coat with regular street pants and no shoes. This must be the immigration officer, I thought. I explained once again that the customs officer had given us these forms after which both men left the room. When they returned, the man in the uniform coat asked to see our immigration declaration. After a lengthy conversation, we ascertained that the paper in question had been given to us at the airport upon our arrival two weeks earlier. The man insisted he could not make up new copies even though there was only basic information such as our names, addresses and occupations on the form. Worst of all was the realization that this all-important paper was aboard Golly Gee in the folder containing our airline tickets! So… we all did another about-face to fetch same.

After walking a short distance, the girls volunteered to make the trip back to the yacht since it was not necessary for all of us to go, and Brenda wanted to drive the dinghy. I sat down in the shade with Al to wait. From this vantage point we could see Terry and Brenda heading across the harbor and returning some time later. We could also see them stopping in the flea market one more time. At last they returned, papers in hand.

Back in the police station, we handed the papers to the immigration officer which he took and left the room. When he returned, he was holding a book of receipts. He filled out several lines on each sheet, then his assistant entered the room carrying a rubber stamp and ink pad. The new papers were all filled out in triplicate, separated, and spread on the counter in preparation for the official stamp. Now we are really getting somewhere, I thought. The assistant laid the broken and dried up ink pad on the counter, raised the rubber stamp high above his head, and slammed it down on the ink pad with a resounding BOOM! Each paper was stamped individually in the same manner. BOOM! …BOOM! …BOOM! Now all that remained was to give us our copies. But wait, there was yet another mix up! The papers had been torn out of their book in the wrong sequence and the receipt numbers did not match the originals. The officer and his assistant were now involved in a four-handed paper shuffling drill that included tearing, arrangement, stapling, and re-arrangement, and lasted at least five minutes. Their antics were so comical, that an involuntary smile began building in my cheeks. I looked at Terry in disbelief. Her eyes looked toward the ceiling. Is this for real? Maybe we’re on Candid Camera!

“Sign here, keep this copy, and give this to the port authority officer.”

“The port authority? Where do I find him?” I asked.

“There,” was the answer as he pointed across the way toward Nelson’s Dock Yard.

At the port authority office we were greeted by a well-dressed young man who set about his paper work without speaking. Upon completion, he asked many questions about where we had sailed and how long we had stayed at his place or that. I answered accurately. Then he produced another form and asked for a large sum of money; I can’t recall the exact amount.

“What’s this for?” I asked trying to sound polite.

“Cruising permit,” was the answer.

“But I already have one.” I said, again trying to sound polite. I showed him the document given to me by the charter company. It was a pre-paid, one-year, cruising permit.

“You should have showed this to me before,” he said.

I would have, I thought to myself, if you had asked me or indicated what you were doing. He examined the paper carefully, Including the reverse side (which was blank) several times, and then sat down and began crossing out and writing over most of what he had filled in. Having completed the rewrite, he returned to the counter and asked for a smaller amount of money. We were charged for harbor dues, port of entry charge, and landing fee per person. The entire amount came to about eighteen dollars [USD]. I had neither the time nor the will to argue so I paid the tariff. The man collected my cash then sat down and began writing again.

“Is that it?” I asked after waiting a while. He nodded; we left.

Straight-away we heeded for Golly Gee and made immediate preparations for getting under way. The sun was already high in the sky as Al and I hauled in the anchor. Brenda handled the helm and throttle according to my directions. Everything went smoothly.

“This anchor gets heavier every time we go through this!” we both agreed.

“It is heavier this time!” I said looking over the side.

There was at least twenty pounds of black mud clinging to the anchor and chain. Buckets of sea water and lots of scrubbing only served to spread the gooey stuff. We ended up scrubbing the entire deck before we were through. As we motored seaward, we all took one last look around with that sad feeling in our hearts that accompanies leaving.

Sails were hoisted before we cleared the old fort. It was a fabulous day with a fair breeze from the right direction. Pulling the diesel kill lever worked its regular magic as noise and vibration ceased, and our sleek craft joined in the rhythm of the sea. Knowing there were no hazards to navigation in this area, my mind soon realized it had nothing in particular on which to concentrate. I relaxed in the cockpit while soaking in the pristine environment and warm Caribbean sun with all my sense. Cloud shadows slid silently across the majestic green mountain peaks of Antigua’s western shore. Thick palm groves lined the coast. Soon my exhilaration turned to elation in a way that words or picture cannot describe! I wondered how I had allowed myself to become hassled earlier. It all seemed so petty now.

The next several hours were spent with charts in one hand and binoculars in the other. Antigua has an abundance of nasty things to bump into off shore; all very harmless actually. All you have to do is avoid them! The wind began to fail as we sailed in the lee of the island. Some chart work and math gave me the unwanted answer I expected. We would have to maintain a speed of at least four knots to reach our intended anchorage at a reasonable time of day. This meant starting the diesel whenever our boat speed dropped. Soon it was necessary to take down the sails and run the engine constantly. The miles slipped by and it was late in the day when we finally reached the buoy marking the entrance to Parham Harbor. Once inside, we motored toward the small islands on the eastern perimeter of the harbor. It was our plan to anchor there for the night. This would allow us plenty of time to make the short ride to the charter company’s dock in the morning. After securing the yacht and checking the anchor, we made a hasty departure for some last minute snorkeling and a dinghy ride ashore to watch the sunset.

There was plenty to see ashore even though Bird Island is tiny and uninhabited. It’s cozy cove led to a small beach with a low grassy area beyond. About a hundred yards distant was the other side of he island and another sandy beach. To the right, a steep hill seemed to be calling, “come and see what is on the other side,” and of course we did. The summit revelaed a sheer cliff dropping straigh to the sea with the vast, open ocean beyond. Behind us, Golly Gee lay peacefully awaiting our return while the sun disappeared behind Antigua.

The sun was also setting on our vacation. By comparison, this charter had really gone smoothly. We had visited Antigua, Guadelope, Isles de Saintes and Dominica, and covered approximately 220 nautical miles. We encountered only minor problems which must be expected with a trip of this complexity. Sailing vacations can be more work than relaxation, especially on a bareboat charter. But this is not something I have only recently discovered. However, never before had we tried to cover so many islands and so many miles. I didn’t regret for a moment sailing as far as luscious Dominica, a mountainous, green-clad country of running waters and forests of mahogany, cedar and bamboo; the most unspoiled island I’ve seen. Although the schedule we had to maintain to get it all in, could have ruined our vacation. Yes… that was the problem… the schedule. Having to be there on time can take the fun out of getting there. Dealing with the natives can be exasperating if you are in a hurry. I may have been fooling myself by thinking, “I’m not in harry,” but my true thoughts were on the many sea miles left to cover in the time remaining. Also, jumping from island to island in an international area can necessitate checking in and out of customs and immigrations repeatedly. This can be tedious and expensive. You could spend days or even weeks at places we saw only breifely. For that matter, there is nothing wrong with cruising the same are more than once, since there is always more to see, and it’s never the same vacation.

Some charter companies send charts early so you can look them over ahead of time. This is great! However, making a sailing plan, even a tentative one, is a mistake. The next time I get the chance to charter, I’m going to stick my hook in the first nice place I come to and stay there until I’m good and ready to move on.

~ Bruce Constantine


My winter diary 1994

winter_diaryJAN 1 – The New Year dawns to a crisp winter morning. 3 inches of fresh snow adding to the snow that was already on the ground. This was the first “white Christmas” we have had in years. This new addition gives us a good snow cover. We clear the driveway quickly. It’s an easy job with everyone helping.

JAN 2 – 6 more inches of snow fell last night. I awakened to a beautiful winter wonderland. Snow covers everything and Jack Frost has decorated our windows. We clear the driveway again and have a snowball battle with the neighbors – WE WON! We are in awe of nature’s magnificent grandeur. Life is good. Them folks down south don’t know what they’re missing.

JAN 3 – Had to clear the end of the driveway because the snowplow pushed it closed. Also fixed the mailbox he knocked down. We all went for a walk in the snow and built a big snowman.

JAN 4 – 3 more inches of snow. Cleared the driveway again. No sooner finished, the snowplow closed the entrance again. I’l clear it tomorrow.

JAN 5 – Cleared the entrance to the driveway.

JAN 7 – 6 more inches of snow. Spent an hour and a half getting the snowblower started. I think the last time I used it was 1989. Put the mailbox back up. Mail can be delivered again.

JAN 10 – The temperature has not been above freezing in 17 days. Every flake of snow that came down is still here. The weatherman is predicting 14 inches of snow for tomorrow. That can’t be right!

JAN 12 – The weatherman was wrong. It snowed 18 inches. Spent the entire day shoveling and clearing our roads. Got some help for a while but not much. Soon as I finished the snowplow closed by driveway and knocked the mailbox down. No mail today.

JAN 13 – Bitter cold. Opened the end of the driveway again. Searched for a half hour to find the mailbox and then made quick repairs. Snowplow came by as soon as I finished. Near as I can figure, he waits around the corner watching me.

JAN 15 – More snow. I don’t know how much. There’s so much here I can’t keep track anymore. Who cares? The mailbox is down again. The hell with it. Who needs mail.

JAN 17 – Bitter cold – High winds – Dangerous wind chill factor. I cleared the end of the road. The snowplow came by as I lifted the last shovel full. I’ve had enough of this winter!

JAN 18 – Actual temperature -10F degrees. Coldest temperature in this area since the weather bureau has kept records. In the 30 seconds it takes me to walk to the garage my feet get cold, my hands and ears are numb, the hair in my nose is frozen, and I have ice in my mustache. Winter sucks!

JAN 20 – It warmed up to 30F degrees. Just warm enough to rain. 2 inches of rain. Everything is frozen – including me.

JAN 21 – Temperature drops to +10F degrees. The snowplow closed my driveway again and this time the snow mound is an immovable frozen ice mountain. Tried to clear with the snowblower. Hit something terrible and wrecked the snowblower – I think I found the mailbox! Terry says, “What’s the wether for tomorrow?” I say, “I stopped watching the weather channel – Surprise me.”

JAN 22 – SURPRISE! 8 inches of new snow. Managed to get to the hardware store to buy repair parts for the snowblower – they’re all sold out. They don’t have rock salt either. Cleared the end of the driveway again. I’m ready to move to Florida.

JAN 23 – Good News. The heatwave melted the snow on the roof but the gutters are frozen solid. The water is coming in around the front windows inside the house.

JAN 24 – Water started coming in the kitchen ceiling and bathroom window. The frozen bathroom window broke. Went to the hardware store for more buckets. They’re all sold out. Cleared the end of the driveway again. Broke the snow shovel – my back is killing me. The zippers are broken on my snowmobile boots.

JAN 26 – Went shopping for new snowmobile boots. They’re all sold out. They don’t have any snow shovels either. But I did manage to buy a bag of salt out of the back of a rental truck from Florida for $20.00.

JAN 27 – The dog can’t go to the bathroom. The snow is too high. I have to hold him up in the air.

JAN 28 – How many days does this month have? More snow, more bitter cold.

JAN 29 – Good news. There are no storms coming for a couple of days. Finally got the snowblower running. Got the roads and driveway cleared.

JAN 30 – End of driveway plowed shut again.

JAN 31 – It snowed most of the night. If I see one more flake of that white shit… Snowplow closed the end of the driveway again. I swear I heard that snowman laughing at me.

FEB 1, 3:45am – It’s snowing. I’m crouched behind a snow pile with my gun – waiting for the son of bitch that drives the snowplow. Winter sucks, life sucks – I’m moving to Florida!!!

~ Bruce W Constantine

Back in the  80’s and 90’s, my father tinkered with writing. It turns out he wasn’t very good at it. Never the less, as we went through various things in the house, I found a ring binder with a few stories. It pleases me greatly to think that once again my father has told a story, and perhaps even made you laugh.