… on memories of an old yankee man


Forbidden Playground. Cleaned and swept. Wow.

Oh, the forbidden…

How it draws us.

Forbidden people.

Forbidden activities.



A little over a week ago, a large dumpster arrived on a truck, and was placed in our driveway by – as JoHn described him – ‘A grouchy old New England guy – just the kind you’d fall in love with.’

Ah, yes.

I still miss my Old Yankee Man, and I know I always will.

But I digress…

The dumpster represents Phase 1 of ‘Disposing of the Disposable Shack’ (our name for our house here).  We figure we may need to do this again at some point in the future, get a dumpster I mean. But for now we…


Oh… why might we need a second dumpster at some point in the future? Well…

You might be under the impression that, since we only moved here in 2004, we must only have 12 years of ‘stuff’ to go through.

Ah… young grasshopper…


What we have is the result of having only moved about 4 miles from where we lived before 2004 (for 11 years or so) and the result of Granny and Grampa having only moved over one town from where they were living since …. 1954.

Not much got cleaned out, or dumpster’d out, in all that time.


Grampa was an Old Yankee Man.

They don’t get rid of anything.

Here is what is ahead of us:

  • Two basements (one under the main house, one under Granny’s and Grampa’s apartment.
  • Two attics.
  • One storage room.
  • Countless drawers, cubbies, and doors with stuff behind them.
  • Six Garage stalls.
  • Yes.
  • Six.

In addition to the two stalls attached to our part of the house, for us, we built an entire garage structure with two stalls on top and two stalls beneath.  All for Grampa.

His space to putter in.

So he wouldn’t putter in our space.

Are you clear on this idea?


Because this, of course, meant…

He was always in our. freakin’. garage.

Cleaning up, straightening up, sweeping out, organizing…

I am so serious about this, I cannot even tell you.

There were so many times when JoHn would hear the slam of Grampa’s apartment door, the shuffling of his feet across our hallway, and then the “quiet” opening of our garage door and John would yell, “STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY GARAGE OLD MAN!”

I know. But it was screamed with love. :))

And yet he would deny being in our garage every time.



Even when you totally had him dead to rights…

“Oh you weren’t in there? No? Okay then, who put all my extension chords in the really nice planters that I bought from the hoity-toity garden shop, especially to put outside in the spring, and WROTE THE DATE AND ‘EXTNSION CORDS’ on the planters in black, permanent, Sharpie?!” (true story).

He didn’t answer.

*Note: Our garage was, indeed a mess.  A hive of miscellaneous soccer balls, countless boxes and papers and containers… a junk heap, really. And we were totally fine with it.

But it drove Grampa nuts.

One year, I looked everywhere for my ‘outside Christmas lights’ – the ones I put on the bushes in the front yard. I could not find those dang things anywhere. I could have sworn I put them in the garage, but I also went all through the basement and storage room too.  Finally, I went out to Target and bought some new lights.

As I was putting them up the next day, Grampa shuffled around the corner and stopped.

“Where’d ya get them lights?!” he demanded.

“I just bought ’em!” I responded cheerfully.

The man’s face turned red.

“Why the Hell’d ya do that?!” He demanded.

“I couldn’t find my old ones!” I leaned in, as always. For whatever reason, his blusters never blew me back.

“They’re all in the garage!” He was motioning wildly around the corner.

“No they aren’t. I looked there.” I said, wrapping twinkling lights around another holly bush. I was all happy and he was beside himself.

“They are too, God damn it!” And he turned and shuffled off, back around the corner.

I continued to wrap, adjust, and smile. Did I mention that there was Christmas music playing in my garage, and the bushes were just outside? Practically Heaven.

Ten minutes later, I heard something… something sort of squeaking.

Sure enough, Grampa appeared again, from around the corner, with a wagon full of my old Christmas lights.

“They’re right here!” he said, practically apoplectic.

I stopped doing what I was doing.

“Where did you find them?!”

“In the God damn garage!”

I was stunned.

I didn’t hear him in the garage. And I was right next to the garage. And the doors were open, so I’d hear him if he was mucking around in there… and where did he get a wagon in my…

Wait a minute.

“In whose garage?” I asked.

“What?” He seemed confused.

“In whose garage did you get those lights?”

He paused, then went all in.

“In my God damn garage! You didn’t have room in your God damn garage! Look at it!” He motioned behind him with his whole arm “You can’t find anything in there!” and he went on for, like five minutes about how he took them and untangled them and put them in his own so I could find them!

“Okay,” I started. “But why would I go into your garage to look for them?”


“Because,” I added, “You said that was your garage…” (Old Yankee Man rules demand respect for property rights. Big time respect. You do not muck with an Old Yankee Man’s garage or work bench. Like, ever.)

Silence.  He just looked at me with his behind-his-thick-glasses giant eyes.

“I was keeping them safe!” he finally trumpeted, and then turned to go..

Because Old Yankee Men don’t hang around for logic.

Totally caught, I never did see him going back into my garage after that.


I would see him… leaving.

Sometimes, I would come home early or unexpectedly from wherever I was. And I would be a bit delayed in hitting the button on my car’s garage door opener.

And when this happened, every once in a while, as I was waiting for the garage door to go up, I’d see two shuffling shoes with leather soles that he insisted were the best for everyone’s feet.

And then the rising door would reveal his lower legs, moving as fast as they could toward the door, lest he be caught red-handed.

I’d wait.

On purpose.

Just long enough for him to grab the door with his big, gnarled hand… slamming it shut behind him.

And I would smile, and shake my head.

And I never said a thing.


I miss him.

Thanks for readin’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA*If you are new to Just Ponderin’, you can start reading about the Old Yankee Man here. He was really one of a kind. (Oh! And welcome! :))

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