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Tales of a Hay Hauler: ‘I’m thankful to be able to give thanks!’

Brad Nelson Published on 13 November 2015

I told the grandkids that their grandpa could fix anything except for a broken heart. Quite some time back, Dan’s oldest, Ashton, came to me with a broken toy. It was made of what we used to call “pot metal.”

It couldn’t be welded or soldered and was so soft that it bent easily. Its application for small cheap toys made for toys that didn’t take heavy use or mild abuse well at all.

On Ashton’s toy, an actual piece of steel shaft, about half the diameter of thin pencil lead, passed through and held in place the working part of the toy. The anchor hole for the working part had broken off, and a piece was missing.

This was something that cost about $0.02 in China, and Walmart sold it to Ashton for about $5. I examined it closely while Ashton watched. I returned it to him and said, “What you have here, Ashton, is a broken heart. I can’t fix those.”

I’m grateful that there are many things I can repair. I’m thankful that I know how to adjust headlights on cars and trucks. If you can stand about 30 feet in front of your vehicle at night with the headlights on low beam and can see the vehicle without its headlights blinding you, then the adjustment is fairly close.

If other drivers flash their high beams at you while driving when your headlights are on low beam, you probably have a problem with your lights.

I’m thankful that I can get along with dogs. When I was about 13, my Boy Scout troop was helping distribute some civil defense booklets to the town. There were three of us in a car with an adult driver. The procedure was to take a booklet to the door and give it to the occupant.

If no one was home, we were to leave it stuck to the front door any way we could. Scott was terrified of dogs. We were helping Scott overcome this by making him take his turn whether or not a dog seemed to live at his assigned house. One house had no visible signs of a dog. Scott opened the gate to the yard and walked toward the front door.

About 10 feet from the front door, Scott froze. A dog began barking in the back yard. Scott ran 5 feet forward, threw the booklet at the porch and came racing back out the gate. A ferocious 15-ounce chihuahua was in hot pursuit.

I have gout-related bunions on both of my feet. I’m thankful that I know how to massage the leather on a new pair of shoes so the shoes actually fit. A mix of water and rubbing alcohol to soften the leather, then something hard to push the leather out so my bunions fit inside is all it takes.

I’m thankful that I know how to cook. Several months ago I was helping a friend three states away and stayed 10 days or so at a time. An acquaintance commented that perhaps I’d lose some weight if I had to eat my own cooking. My family who heard that burst out laughing, then added, “In your dreams.”

I’m thankful that I can fairly accurately judge the quality of hay. The softness, color, aroma, leaf retention, the stage of maturity when it was cut, and yes, even the taste. It’s rare when my judgment of a haystack and the test results don’t agree.

I’m thankful that I know how to weld. One part of welding is getting hot little balls of molten metal down your neck. Human nature is to shift position when that hot little ball touches skin; then it will roll further down inside your shirt until it touches skin again.

Usually by the time it has sizzled your hide about three times, it’s cooled enough to just ignore. (Note: If it’s still sizzling when it gets as far down as your belt, it’s time to stop welding and remove it. You don’t want it passing your belt!)

I’m thankful that I can make most people smile. I’m even more thankful to realize that this is important. The other day, I noticed a fellow I judged to be about 90 sitting on the bench just inside the door to Walmart. He was leaning on a cane and did not seem happy. I stopped and commented about his “thumpin’ stick.”

He got a huge smile on his face, and we talked about canes – his and the last one I had used for a couple of minutes. I left and went about my business and noticed that he was now sitting up straight and smiling. He may not realize it, but he made my day, too.

The girlfriend I married back in ’68 delights me now just as much as she did then. I’m thankful that somewhere along the way I figured out that she needs to feel that I cherish her.

I’m thankful that I know how to be thankful. I’m thankful that in this land we are still permitted to give thanks to God for our freedoms and blessings. My hope for my country is that we realize how blessed we are to have the freedoms we do, because without that realization, we will surely lose those freedoms.  FG