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Me, House Building, and the World Cup

I've looked at my title several times wondering if I should correct the grammar and change the title to House Building, and the World Cup, and Me (or I). I flip-flopped several times before taking advice from the great William Shakespeare, who wrote that blog titles should always use words that attract the reader to the story, disregarding the order in which they appear on the printed page. Oh, take a chill pill.

As you can tell, I was an excellent student in high school. So good, I forgot to go 1-2 days per week. When my school counselor suggested, I spend half days in vocational school (carpentry) I thought that might be a good idea. I had always fancied myself an architect. I had an uncle that I loved dearly who was a carpenter (house builder). It seemed like carpentry school was a good place to start adult life.

It didn't turn out exactly as I planned, but what the (construction language) I was only a high school junior, so I had plenty of time to make changes. Turns out, it was pretty easy to forget to go to vocational school, so I did. Oh, I wasn't as bad as I sound, I graduated from both vocational school and high school, mostly for my mother, but I did it.

After graduation, I was offered a job as a framing carpenter for a local home developer. Not to brag, but I was the only student whose father wasn't a home builder that was offered a job. I know why. I was the only student that actually paid attention to Ol" Mr. Jim. Eight students, one job. He did loan students cigarettes so I guess he was there for a reason. There was one thing Mr. Jim couldn't or didn't teach the class. When you actually go to work in the construction field, they expect you to come every day and stay the entire day. Who knew?

The developer I was working for was the biggest house builder in our town. The guy was a genius. (or so, I thought, looking back, he might just have wanted to be rich.) His plan was to build starter homes for the young. As your family got bigger he built a larger home for larger families. As children moved away, he built smaller maintenance-free homes for retirees. His intent for you was to spend your entire adult life in a home that he built.

I put aside my thoughts of being an architect. I needed to save some money for tuition and went off, at least for a while, to be a carpenter. With four brothers, there was no way our parents could help all of us with college. If they could have helped, I would have been the last one. You see, in a world of sheep, I was always a llama. (See, this IS a yarn store blog.)

Pay raises and promotions came often. (I am a better carpenter than a writer.) My dream of being an architect dimmed with the purchase of a house and the birth of a child. The company continued to build more and more houses, requiring more and more people. The company owner hired a guy, a suit-and-tie kind of guy, his job was to work between the construction crews, real estate agents, and customers.

This new guy was from out of town. He was a little older than me, a better dresser, and college-educated. I didn't have a lot of contact with him, and with what contact went fine. His name was Larry K.

The story takes a left turn from here. I will get back to houses and Larry K. in a minute.

I have always loved kids and sports. My friend Joe, and I coached our first youth baseball team as juniors in high school. My youngest brother Larry was on that team. It is a mystery why Larry never played baseball again. Maybe it was all the laps his older brother made him run. Who knows?

Larry wasn't the only relative I coached in baseball. Next was a nephew. My older brother's oldest kid. He continued playing baseball after his year with me as a coach. Again, a mystery. However, I don't think he ran as much (or as fast) as my brother Larry.

Building houses and coaching kids, that's what I did. I did referee adult flag football and kid football, I had a black and white striped shirt. What else was I going to do it? Can I tell you a quick small story? I ran into a man and his father at the membership club store this past week. This man played on one of my youth baseball teams thirty years ago. They wanted to chat about the old team (as well as other things). Thanks, guys, I loved every minute I spent with you, especially the ones thirty years ago.

I should add, Elaine was with me every inch of the way. Not with the houses, but Elaine was my scorekeeper and head knitter at every game I coached. She stayed home for the houses.

It's time to bring us back to Larry K. As I remember it Larry K. called me into his office for a conference.

Larry K.: Can we have a quick conversation?

Me: Sure! Are you going to fire me so I can go back to school? Larry K.: No, this is not about work.

Me: (construction language) I was hoping. What's up? Larry K.: I want you to coach a kid's soccer team.

Me: We don't play soccer here.

Larry K.: I'm working with a group to bring soccer to town.

Me: Why?

Larry K: Soccer is a great sport. Will you do it?

Me: I don't know how to play soccer. Does it have rules?

Larry K.: Of course, I will get you a book. We are going to start kids playing at five years old. That is where we will want you.

Me: Let me think about it.

I drove home to discuss the "offer" with the always voice of reason, Elaine.

Me: Larry K. wants me to coach a soccer team.

Elaine: Do you know how to play soccer?

Me: I know you run around and try to kick a ball between two posts

Elaine: It might be fun for you. I don't think the parents will be very knowledgeable so they won't be very mean to you.

Me: You're probably right, I guess I'll do it.

I was told I was to hold two practices a week and plan on one game. Each five-year-old was given a reversible shirt, red on one side for the home team, and white on the other side for the visiting team. I didn't get a shirt, but I'm not bitter. Just disappointed.

At the level I was coaching, each team had six players on the field at any one time. One kid could catch the ball with his hands and positioned him/herself in front of the posts. Two kids played in front of the kid by the posts. The other three kids played at the center of the field and try to kick the ball between the other team's posts. Really simple, I have this.

The games start when three players from each team meet at the center of the field. One player kicks the ball and the action starts. Ideally, once the ball was kicked the six players would spread out and kick the ball when it came to them. I said ideally; it never happened. Once the ball was kicked the six players would engage in a group hug while kicking the living (construction language) out of each other and occasionally the ball. The term for this hug is "posse soccer". It isn't/wasn't long and the kids "protecting the posts would either just sit down. There was a time a couple of kids left practice and went to ride the City Park train. That'll make a parent angry. I didn't give them the money.

Elaine was wrong. It's not often but Elaine can be wrong. The parents did yell. Parents understand one thing really well about soccer. They want to win. Which is exactly what my team did not do. Our record was zero wins and seven losses with one game to go. The parents didn't like me, but I had support from Elaine, and she didn't have a kid on the team.

I decided (fearing for my life) to win the last game at all costs. I changed the rules a bit. I took all our players, even the kid protecting our posts, and moved them to the posse. With the numbers in the posse in our favor, we were able to score goals. We won our last game.

Ending my career on a high note, I didn't coach soccer again. Both of my children from the first batch played soccer. Alex played for real. By real, I mean kids and the town were starting to take it seriously. Ivy was a little more laid back. I saw Ivy's teammates adjusting her hair ribbons on the field in the game. That said, Ivy had a young girl on the team that I named "Megan Meat-Eater". This girl was serious. I don't know where her soccer career took her, but I'm sure she roughed up a couple of kids along the way.

The second batch of kids didn't play soccer, I shouldn't say Thank God, but Thank God.

Why am I writing this story? I got up this week and turned the television to the Morning News The Morning News wasn't there. Soccer was. Strangely enough, I was mesmerized. It brought me back to coaching that (construction language). It hadn't changed. The only change I noticed was in the posse. The posse was gone. The stands were full of screaming parents, and the players had really interesting great-looking hair, complete with ribbons. But what I liked most about watching the World Cup is when a player gets tripped and starts to cry on the way to the ground. Slo-motion makes it even better. I didn't enjoy it when it happened to the kids, but this World Cup (construction language) is great. Some of you like shows like Yellowstone and Rocky, I like watching soccer players get tripped. I wish we could make a mini-series of the World Cup every year.

Before I leave, I want to apologize. I didn't do it by myself, but all these houses, I helped put them here.. Soccer? I helped bring it here. I'm sorry. It's not Colorado anymore.

It is not important that you agree with my feelings about the World Cup. It is only important that if you are watching the World Cup on television you knit, crochet, or weave until you are out of material. We can hook (Get it, crocheters) you up with some new stuff. Contact

God Bless, buy yarn or stuff

Our crazy lives!



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