About Me

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Hi, I'm Darryll and I live in Pullman, Washington with my wife and two kids. I'm a licensed Architect and am employed as a Project Manager at Washington State University. In addition, I have my own business doing residential designs in the greater Palouse area. I am a self-taught pianist, song-writer and singer and am involved in the music department at my local church.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sweep! Don't Wash or Blow!

I spent the weekend doing some cleaning at my dad’s house with my brother. Finishing up a bunch of work, our last task was to clean up our mess in the driveway. As we both systematically used our old push-brooms to sweep up all the garbage and sawdust, I couldn’t help but realize that theses were probably the same brooms that we used as kids to do the very same job. They certainly didn’t look any newer than the ones we would’ve used.

I then made an observation out loud, with which my brother whole-heartedly agreed. These days, you hardly ever see kids – or any homeowners for that matter – sweeping their driveways. They are either washing them down with the hose, or blowing them clean with a blower.

I will agree that a driveway probably needs a good washing off every now and then. Usually the best time to do this is when you’re washing the car, since it will already be done for the most part. But – I think that there are a lot of people who just use the hose to sweep their driveways. Not only is this a waste of water, but it basically eliminates 90% of the physical exercise you might get while actually pushing a broom and working up a sweat.

Blowers are just offensive. Although – as much as I don’t like them – there might be the need every now and then to blow the driveway clear… but again, I think the majority of them are just used instead of a broom.

When I grew up in the ‘70s, we had chores. Sweeping the driveway would’ve been one of those chores. It was part of our routine and it was usually physically demanding and required time and effort. And if we tried to skimp and do it too quickly and did a poor job, we got the opportunity to do it again the very same day. It seems to me that most kids today could do with a reintroduction to chores and the physical labor that accompanies them. It might help educate them in dealing with responsibility, physical health and energy conservation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ice Cream Truck

There was nothing that would lift the spirits of the entire gaggle of neighborhood kids quite like the approaching sound of the ice cream truck. Also called the Popsicle man, or Popsicle lady, depending on who had the route that summer.

Typically, it was late afternoon and the end of a long day of playing outside.
The whole neighborhood was out and nearing the end of our energy. As soon as we could begin to hear the silly little music a bunch of thoughts would start to go through our heads. Would mom say it was ok to have an ice cream? Where was the truck – it was always so hard to tell where the music was coming from? Did we have time to run home to get money from mom and get back in time? There were so many choices – what would you get? Although, all of the sudden we had plenty of energy to make sure that we got home and back in time to get catch the truck.

There are a couple of things to note, here. First off, as kids, we typically didn’t have money in our pockets. Not that we didn’t have money, we just didn’t carry it with us. Secondly, this was very likely the highlight of the day for many of us. We’d often be hoping and praying that the truck would come because it was very special. And lastly, our mom’s didn’t have freezers stocked full of ice cream treats. This really was a treat, and especially because there was a lot of variety to choose from – and some things you might not ever get otherwise.

It was a sweet, cold treat on a long, hot day and one of the great memories of growing up!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

1970's Crafts

There were a lot of crazy things that we did for fun back when I grew up. It seems like there was an obsession with "making" things - especially if they were "earthy" and used lots of natural materials.

Decoupages were huge. The first thing you needed was a hunk of wood, be it a piece of a tree or an old faded piece of 2x4. Then you needed a cool picture... some old sailing ship, or a wooded scene with a lake, or maybe a majestic mountain or two. The next step was always fun... you needed to burn the edges of the picture so it got that "old" look to it. My brother and I always lingered on this one... burning stuff was always cool! After you achieved the right look, it was time to glue the picture to the piece of wood. We would pull out the trusty Elmers and glue away. After having let it "set" for a day or two, you started adding lacquer… lots of lacquer. The more coats, the better. We usually got impatient after 3 or 4 coats, but they generally turned out great anyway.

I know there are still some of my "masterpieces" littered about my folks’ home. And I know my brother and I made a few of them for our grandmothers. They weren’t the most professional looking pieces of art, but they were homemade crafts and that’s what made them special.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Iron-on Transfers

This may come as a huge surprise to many kids who read this, but back in the ‘70s you couldn’t buy t-shirts with words, logos, etc. printed on them. You could buy any color t-shirt you wanted, but there were a very few shirts with logos on them, for the most part - they were just not available.

The big thing back then was iron-on transfers. They were huge! The stores that sold these had tons of solid colored t-shirts, oh – and you could get baseball shirts, tank-tops and some other types of shirts – but tons of shirts. The walls of these stores were covered with iron-transfer patterns, and there were also bunches of books with pages and pages of transfers.

The most difficult part was, of course, picking out which pattern to put on your shirt. There were bands, ‘70s sayings, popular culture icons, places, cars – a ton of cool stuff. I remember that one of my favorite t-shirts that I got was a blue shirt with the band Chicago’s logo on it. And my brother had one with the slogan “Keep on Truckin’” with the cartoon guy with his foot stuck way out on it. They were really cool!

There are some great websites where you can pick up retro t-shirts. Just Google retro/’70s/classic t-shirts and you’ll have some great old memory flashes as you peruse the pages and pages of what were some great iron-on transfers. Nowadays, finding them on the web is easy; clicking through “pages and pages” of them on the computer is also easy; ordering them off the websites is easy; opening your mailbox to find them is easy, too. Back in my days you had to make a real effort to get a ride or ride your bike to the t-shirt store, you usually involved a close friend or two, and you got to sit there and watch them “make” it after you finally chose the perfect transfer. And when you put it on, it was still warm!

Next time you see your favorite ‘70s image, maybe you’ll pop onto the web, order a t-shrit and relive those memories!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The General Store

The other day I talked about the local candy store. But what about the local general store? For me, this little store was about six blocks from our house. It seemed that it was there from the beginning of time and was as much a part of our community as anything else.

It had many names: I think in the beginning it was “Lambs”, and then “Jim’s”. We had an account there and we would often be sent on an errand to pick up various items for mom. It was cool to say “put it on our tab”, and then sign the little slip of paper with our signature. It was the type of place with a butcher in the back – I think it was Jim himself or his brother. The other key thing about the store was that it was at the corner of the two main arterials – the veritable epicenter of our little community.

As we grew up, this was one of the fun destinations for us kids. My brother, cousin and I were the ones that I remember most often hanging out there. We would saunter on down to the store and buy some candy and a pop (Shasta, sugar pop) to snack on and then sit on the little brick ledge outside of the front corner door. This afforded us a front row view of people walking and driving by. We got the biggest kick out of watching people doing the funniest things on their way home – assuming they were in their own little private world. We’d catch sight of them singing, picking their nose, funny hair-dos, talking to themselves. It would provide for an afternoon of cheap entertainment and laughs.

Sometime in the mid-70s a 7-11 went in across the street. There was the predicable dip in business as we all flocked to try out the new-fangled slurpees, and I think the store might have even closed for awhile.
They eventually reopened and are still there today, while the 7-11 has been turned into a dentist office.
It’s more of a coffee hangout now. It’s gone through a bunch of name changes – “The Store”, The Corner Store”, “The Little Store”, which I think it is now - and there is no butcher any more. But you can still pick up the essentials, grab a treat (caffeinated or not), and even hang out on the ledge and people watch if you want.

Every little community’s got one – do you remember yours?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Love That Long Hair!

Didn’t we all have long hair back in the ‘70s? I think that I was in my early teens when I started growing mine out – much to my mom’s chagrin. Up to that point, my brother and I had sported a large variety of haircuts.

When I was young, probably up until 2nd or 3rd grade, it was the buzz cut. So easy for mom to do… grab the clippers, put on the shortest attachment and shave away!

As we became more self conscious about what was cool in hair styles (and since it corresponded with the popularity of the Beatles) we all had bangs. And also – with Star Trek so popular, we all had “sideburns” (hair hanging down in front of our ears. We have a LOT of great pictures of these Beatles/Spock blended haircuts.

Somewhere along we started to really grow it out – I remember that at one time my hair was as long in front as it was in back… It was down to my chin! I had the real possibility of giving myself a serious neck injury due to the fact that I always had to cock my head to one side and flip my head to keep the hair out of my eyes.

I believe that it was when I was a junior in high school – and just prior to getting my first job – that I finally gave in to my mom’s persistent nagging and went to get a haircut at a “beauty school”. I remember it so well. It was embarrassing enough that I had to go to a beauty school, let alone that I had to have my beautiful locks shorn. Immediately following, I was sure that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My friends who had yet to go “under-the knife” all let me know that I had “dorked out”, and I could only offer them that I knew I had made a mistake and I would let it grow out again.

Of course, I didn’t – and most of my friends eventually got their hair cut, too. And we all sported those feathered haircuts all the rest of the ‘70s. But that’s part of what made the decade so great!