Welcome to the official 2006 Haskin Family Newsletter which has been brought to you by our sponsor the United States Post Office.
The biggest event we have to report this year is the addition of a new little family member. Everybody has agreed that this one is a keeper, so small and yet as cute and lovable as can be, with the softest hair, adorable little eyes and the cutest little nose. The ears might be a little on the big side, but so are Dad's. However, it's too bad it doesn't come potty trained, then we might not have to leave the little cutey outside in a wire cage all the time. Jessica picked the name Reeses because the coloring is like a peanut butter cup. Reeses is one of the nicest little rabbits we have had in a long time. Actually it's the only rabbit we have had in awhile.
And not to be out done, Cathy and Rodney, perhaps driven by jealousy, had a little addition to their family as well, a little girl. Even Dad thinks she is a lot cuter than Reeses. She was born on December 10, 2006 at 6:20 a.m. She was 8 pounds and 6 ounces and 20 ? inches long. Now you guys don't care about those stats but your wife does. Believe me, it's a female thing. Anyway, when she was born we didn't know her name. Dad kept asking her but she wouldn't tell him. Rodney and Cathy are calling her Sarah Jane and most everybody else is calling her that as well. She is also called cutie, sweetie, adorable and a host of other names including, "the baby". Some people thought she might be a Christmas baby but she has definitely turned out to be a Passover Baby. Just about the time you get her snuggled in your arms somebody says, "Pass her over here." There have been more completed passes with her in a week than with all the quarterbacks in the history of the Detroit Lions. Even though she doesn't talk much she is very good at expressing herself. When we look at her we all stop and wonder. Mom wonders when she will start walking. James wonders when she will start playing. Dad is still wondering why she won't tell us her name.
Well it's winter in northern Michigan and that usually means snow, snow and more snow. We have had a few good snow storms, the first in mid October with 7 inches, but right now it is beginning to look like an ever green Christmas. But it reminds me of last winter when Mom was driving home on a plowed paved road. Everything was going fine except for the fact that it was all too boring for Mom. Then she spotted a dirt road through the state forest with a sign that said "Seasonal Road. Not Snowplowed...." So Mom, being the kind hearted person she is, decided to plow it for them. No, she doesn't have a plow. But She does have an all wheel drive mini-van and it does have good snow tires. So it shouldn't have any trouble going through snow up to ten feet deep. And if you drive really, really fast it can probably plow through piles up to 30' deep. Besides it was very plain to see that snowmobiles had previously made it through. So, with all of that going for her, Mom whipped the little red van into the snow filled road saying "I think I can. I think I can." As she gave it more gas the little red van buried its nose in the snow and pushed forward. Snow was flying everywhere as Mom plowed through the 12" deep snow saying, "I knew I could. I knew I could." Then through the flying snow Mom saw a 14" mound of snow coming up, and giving it more gas she said "I think I can. I think I can". And the pile of snow exploded into a huge white cloud in front of the little red van as Mom said "I knew I could. I knew I could". The little red van was moving along surrounded by an ever growing cloud of snow when, through the wildly flapping windshield wipers, Mom could see a 24" mound of snow in front of her, and just beyond that a plowed paved road. Mom looked at that quickly approaching wall of snow and said "I know I can. I know I can". As she pushed harder on the gas pedal the little red van charged forward into that wall of snow. Then, looking like a freshly shaken Christmas globe, with the snow cloud slowly settling around it sat the little red van perched on top of the wall of snow, motionless, except for the windshield wipers madly flapping to the beat of Mom yelling "I know I can. I know I can" while she sat there spinning her wheels. Finally Mom called home saying "I thought I could. I though I could". Mom was eventually rescued by Brian Jr. and a passing motorist, but she is still insisting that with a little more speed she would have made it. She knows she could. She knows she could. Next time she will. I know she will. Or at least she will try to.
Speaking of trying, failing, and trying again, let me tell you about the continuing saga of Dad and the driveway. Dad, in his ongoing quest to make less work for himself, began getting scrap lumber from a local truss company. The idea was to take a 15' x 7' heavy duty trailer to the truss company where they would throw all their scrap lumber in it. Then a few days later, Dad would pick it up, unload it by the wood stove and repeat the process. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it. Except that Dad was involved. So hitching the trailer to the tractor Dad set off to find the truss company. Leaving the trailer there Dad drove back home. No problem. Great job, but the job wasn't done either. We all know that Dad is always trying to start something but he has a problem with finishing anything; like the house, the newsletter, the ... well on second thought he is good at finishing some things like the cake, the potato chips, the cookies, the ... Well, anyway the day came for Dad to try and finish this simple task. All he had to do was go back to the truss company hitch up the trailer and bring it home. Everything was going according to plan until Dad got to our driveway. From previous newsletters you probably remember Dad and the driveway are not the best of friends. Well, Dad made it up the first hill and he easily maneuvered the first curve and started down the hill into the valley. The loaded trailer helped him get down the hill faster than he wanted to, but he made it. He even made it three quarters of the way up the next hill. At that point, with Dad in the tractor it could no longer pull that much weight. Now we all know that Dad doesn't do too well backing up with a trailer. In fact, he doesn't do that well going forward either. In this case, however, forward was not an option. Since the tractor could not pull that excessive weight up the hill, Dad used his own excessive weight to hold down the brake pedal. It was a challenge of the heavyweights. Seeing if an overweight Dad could outweigh the overweight trailer as they waited to be rescued. Sure enough, Mom and Brian came to Dad's rescue again. Mom on the golf cart and Brian with the big cube van. They had to chain the truck to the tractor and use both to pull Dad up the hill, like a two engine train. It took a lot of straining, grunting and groaning but Dad finally got out of the tractor at the house safe and sound. Well as sound as Dad ever gets anyway. So Dad got thinking (always a dangerous sign) but since that experience went so well Dad decide to try it again. This time he pulled the trailer with the 12' truck. Everything went fine because the trailer was only half full on that trip, which means there was only one heavyweight to pull up the hill if you know what I mean. So now having gotten away with it twice Dad felt obligated to do it a third time. However, on this trip the trailer was way too full. Yep, that's right, two heavyweights again. Well Dad once more made the first hill and curve with no problem. He even managed to get down the hill into the valley with ease. In fact the overloaded trailer helped him get down again. Then as Dad was three quarters of the way up the next hill, guess what happened? Yep, history does repeat itself. The truck began slowing down. So Dad gave it more gas. The truck continued to slow down. Dad gave it more gas. The truck and overloaded trailer came to a complete standstill on the side of the hill and Dad gave it even more gas. Did you ever notice how much Mom and Dad think alike at times? Well as Dad began to spin his wheels he groaned and let off some gas and put his weight on the brake. That sounded like a good idea; but, pushing in the clutch before putting on the brake was not a good idea. The overloaded trailer jumped at the opportunity and began plunging down hill backwards with the truck in tow. As Dad looked in his side view mirror he was concerned that he would hit a tree. Then he decided it might be a good thing to hit the tree and stop this rapid descent into the valley. But before Dad could figure out which way to turn the wheel everything came to a sudden jarring stop. There Dad sat with the truck and trailer jack knifed across the entire driveway. However, the truck never did hit the tree. The trailer hit a tree on the other side of the driveway. Which is what brought everything to a sudden halt, causing the trailer tongue to explode into pieces and bending the trailer hitch up under the truck body. The good news was that they didn't have to unhitch the trailer. There was nothing connecting the truck and trailer any more. To make things worse, Grace was playing in a concert that night, which meant we all had to leave soon. Of course, the driveway with the jack knifed trailer was the only way out. But Mom and Brian came to the rescue again along with James. They were able to use the tractor to get the truck back on the driveway and up the hill but as of this writing the trailer is still on the hill next to the driveway. It has been suggested that we put some tires on the side of it and use it for a guardrail. I know this feud between Dad and the driveway is getting to be an annual tradition but after going down that driveway backwards at least three times you'd think he would've learned by now, but then, we are talking about Dad. The only thing Dad may have learned from the experience is that the big difference between his driving and Mom's is that Dad has never had the opportunity to say "I knew I could. I knew I could"
Can you believe that Mom has lived with Dad for over 30 years now? We all know that Dad has laid a lot of eggs in those years. So it just seems natural that Mom would try and hatch a few eggs this year. She must have done everything right because the eggs were transformed into little chickens.
The transformation from eggs to little chicks was really something to see, but you should have seen the transformation of the roosters. Yes I said roosters. But, let's start at the beginning. Rodney and Cathy had two roosters they were considering as a food source; which prompted a few people around here to begin a rooster rescue ranch. Now we all know that kind hearted Dad would have nothing to do with rescuing roosters from a roaster. Then Mom got excited about the prospect of roosters romping around in the yard and Dad consented, very slowly, but he consented. So Rodney and Cathy came over with two full grown, colorful, strutting, entertaining roosters. That's the way they started out anyway. The yard was transformed into a picture perfect barnyard. Mom and Dad put chicken wire around the bottom of the trampoline to make a cage for the roosters. They were acclimating to their new home just fine, except for when James jumped on the trampoline. Then they ran around in circles squawking so loud you would think the sky was falling. However, the transformation began the day Mom let the roosters out of their cage and one refused to come back home. That started a rooster roundup that lasted two days. Do you have any idea how hard it is to catch a rooster in the woods when he's had a half day head start? Well, I'll tell you it is harder than you think. The rooster will let you get close enough that you are sure you have him and then he will laugh at you and run away. Anyway, the rooster roundup began, people were running, diving, slipping, swinging brooms, throwing coats and screaming but they finally got Dad to get up and help chase the rooster. However, the rooster had disappeared. He was somewhere in the woods taunting us but not showing himself. Night fall was quickly approaching and concern for the rooster's safety was mounting. We had to call off the search as night fell and hope he would survive until morning. The next day somebody would hear or spot the rooster and the roundup would begin again, then the rooster would disappear and the round up would stop until he was spotted again. Finally, the rooster went into a thick brush pile and could not get out. The rooster was trapped. Well kind of trapped, he couldn't get out, but nobody wanted to crawl in to get him either. Finally Jessica was appointed to crawl into the brush pile. After some screaming, squawking and wrestling Jessica crawled in and emerged holding the rooster by the leg. That rooster was immediately named Bandit. The other one was named Cogburn. They would start crowing at 5 am every morning like an alarm clock, then they would keep on crowing all day long. When they stopped crowing for the night the owls and coyotes would start up. So much for nice quiet country living. Well a few days later those crowing, pecking, pestering roosters escaped again. (Notice the transformation in progress here.) Grace spent hours combing the woods looking for Bandit's trail. At one point she herded Bandit out of the woods and back into our yard only to have him run past the house, back into the woods and down the hill. Right about then Grace made a comment about just letting something eat him and be done with it. Later that day everybody got involved in another rooster roundup that was every bit as frustrating as the first one. I guess the roosters didn't like the safety of their cage because they frequently caused a problem about going in for the night. And when they were out they were messing all over the place. Their favorite place to mess seemed to be on our front porch which was real nice when company came over. Well after a couple of months the transformation was complete and those loud mouth, messy, useless, annoying roosters were given to a petting farm; where they once more became colorful, strutting, entertaining roosters; at least for the moment.
Brian Jr. is still helping Dad with the business. He is still on the local fire department. As you already know he is still involved with rescue operations involving Dad's dilemmas. Brian has gotten involved with competitive shooting and, as with everything Brian does, he is doing quite well. He is still the person in the house that we all call for the moment our computers appear to be acting up. I am sure the computers in the house are afraid of Brian. Then again he's kind of like their father. Most of them wouldn't exist if it were not for Brian.
Jessica also helps Dad with the business. She is also working as an independent Medical Transcriptionist. At first we were wondering if she had started a new ministry. She would start a job, find out they did abortion reports and quit. This third job looks like they informed her correctly and she has not come across any such reports and seems to like this company better than the others. She has been spending a lot of time at the emergency room in the hospital where she volunteers her services every week. Jessica's horse developed the heaves which would have required better facilities than we have to take care of him for the winter so Jessica donated her horse. No she didn't put it in the offering plate at church. She gave it to an organization that leases the horses to good homes for $1 a year. Speaking of donations Jessica and Mom helped with the political campaigns again. Making phone calls to remind people to get out and vote as well as working as poll watchers on election day. Dad has been known to watch some poles in the past as well. He has even struck up conversations with one or two. Jessica also plays the piano for church services.
James also helps Dad with the business. He also is continuing to develop his art skills. Actually his art skills are very well developed but he is constantly fine tuning them. He was even asked to do an illustration for an article in a magazine. James had his wisdom teeth removed this year and has had braces put on as well. In the next few months he will probably have jaw surgery. Mom said it was because one side of his jaw grew faster than the other side and has pushed things out of their proper position. James is now the tallest member of the family. He also plays cello during church services, well only during the song service. He also does the song leading at the end of the service.
Grace also helps Dad. Are you getting the idea that Dad needs a lot of help? Grace has been doing what everybody else has been doing as well; but of course she does it in her own special way. She volunteers at the hospital one day a week like Jessica. She had her wisdom teeth removed this year like James. She worked on the political campaigns like Mom. She also plays in the Traverse Youth Symphony Orchestra like nobody else can. And she plays the violin in church.
Many of you know that the hill behind our house is even steeper than the driveway. At the bottom of the hill is a nice flowing creek that we don't see very often because it is so hard to get back up the hill from there. Mom has often said how nice it would be if we could drive down there with the golf cart. So for some unknown reason Dad decided he would drive the golf cart through the woods down to the creek. After all Dad has always been so successful driving vehicles up and down hills. Well, everything was going fine, Dad was flying along in the golf cart weaving his way through the trees and totally enjoying himself thinking of how proud Mom would be of him for blazing a trail to the creek. Then he came to the edge of the hill. He stopped and sat there for a few minutes relishing the moment that he would conquer the hill and discover the path to the creek. Based on Dad's past experiences with vehicles and hills I don't know how, but he convinced himself that he could do this. So he inched the golf cart over the edge of the hill and began the 150' descent to the creek. That was the end of flying in the golf cart, in fact I don't think he even touched the accelerator all the way down the hill. Using the brakes continually, Dad ventured where no golf cart had gone before. The final frontier for golf carts. Slowly winding between the trees Dad was feeling pretty good about conquering this hill as he inched the golf cart onto the path next to the creek. He was beaming with pride as he looked back up at the dreaded hill he had just overcome. He took a few victory laps along the level path next to the creek and then decided it was time to go back to the house and gloat about his triumph. The problem began when he tried to find the path he had taken down. It seems like Daniel Boone Dad was a might bewildered about where to go back up the hill. After all, the path he took to get here was all down hill. Now everything was looking up, except for the prospect of getting back to the house. I guess Dad never figured out that going down a hill had never been the problem. Well Dad did what came natural to him at that moment, he hit the gas hard and hoped for the best. On the first attempt Dad made it up the hill, I would guess about six feet. Then guess what happened. Yep he went backwards for six feet. The amazing thing was he didn't hit anything going backwards. Well, after several attempts, along with getting out and pushing a few times, Dad managed to get up the hill about ten feet. Great! That only left another 140' to go. However, the golf cart was stuck against a tree and Dad was once again sitting there spinning his wheels. The good news was that he wasn't going backwards at that point, he wasn't moving at all. So Dad decided to use his universal solution to every problem. Yep, he called Mom, who called Brian, who let everybody else know which started a chain reaction of exclamations of unbelief. The rest of the family walked down the hill to where Dad was stuck but did not give him the triumphant response he was hoping for when he started this adventure. Then to make matters worse, Mom got in the golf cart to drive while everybody else pushed and with about three pushes Mom drove the golf cart all the way up the hill. Rather than being humiliated by the experience, Dad began trying to convince everybody that this could be done. However, nobody was very interested in his logic while they were trudging back up the hill. The family quickly decided that Dad is not allowed to go near the edge of the hill with the golf cart which should settle the problem. Except that Dad has been heard to say that he is sure the tractor can get down to the creek. Some how he still isn't thinking about getting back up. Well that is the up and down of Dad's life this year. If you haven't figured it out by now, Dad's entire life would all be down hill if it were not for Mom.
Speaking of Mom. Mom, James and Grace accompanied Dad to Orlando, Florida this summer for a business convention. After all, Dad was going DOWN South and somebody had to be there to make sure he can get back UP North. Well. after the first day of the convention, Mom, James and Grace decided to go to Universal Studios instead of the convention. They all went on some roller coaster type rides. I am told that Mom was yelling and screaming a lot but James and Grace got her on the ride anyway. The three kids Mom, James and Grace had a great time.
Speaking of great times. This seems like a great time to end this letter and let you all get on with your busy lives. Besides Dad went out to put some wood in the stove awhile ago and it is probably time for somebody to go rescue him from something.
We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
The Haskin Family
The events in this newsletter are all based on the true experiences of the Haskin Family.
The names have not been changed to protect anybody.
Any resemblance these episodes have to normal people is purely coincidental.