Living with the Falcon

By, Charmalee Magoon

The Falcon I am writing this story about my dad because we made a deal that if we let him use my new family name, “Magoon” and write about Thomas, my four kids and me in his last story, (Living with the Magoons) I could write the next story about living with him. So here goes.

First off, dad became “The Falcon,” when I was about to have my first child Alyssa. Dad had expressed to me that he didn’t think he was old enough to be a “grandpa” and tried to come up with another name for his dear granddaughter to call him instead. He actually started off with Uncle Bill. Although that never took as she ended up calling him Papa or Grandpa anyway. But by the time I had my second child Christopher he came up with “The Falcon.” He sometimes tries to get the kids to call him that still but they all think it is just Papa being silly and they think it’s funny.

Dad is not what I would call a hands on grandpa, well not until they reach about age 1 or so. They need to have what he calls their “sea legs” before he would really hold or play with them. He always looked a bit awkward when I would ask him to hold one of them while I was heating up a bottle or getting their food. When I had twins, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. With Thomas working nights, I needed an extra hand to hold a baby. Although I did sometimes wonder how in the world did he take care of me as a child? Did I change my own diapers? Because he certainly NEVER once helped change any of the grand kids diapers!!! I couldn’t even get him to throw them away. He even said once that it was his goal to never change another diaper.

He did help a bit here and there, only things like take one out of the bath while I watched the other one that was still in the tub. Of course he had to switch with me right away cause he was not about to hold a naked baby for too long.

Cooking is something he relishes, Dad is not what I like to call an adventurous eater he only has about 10 different meals that he rotates over & over again. He doesn’t like to try new things and he insists on cooking his meat, not on our gas grill, but on his rickety charcoal fired Webber and only uses mesquite charcoal, unless of course we are funding and cooking dinner then he will gladly partake in the gas grilled barbeque. One of Bill’s favorite dishes is his “Cajun Chicken.” Thomas likes to kid him that it really isn’t Cajun chicken, just burnt chicken, as you just can’t control that grill as well as the gas barbeque.

Now you can always count on the fact that whenever we have just finished detail cleaning the kitchen (with a family of seven, usually happens twice a week) he will show up with the fixings for making spaghetti sauce, which always ends up all over the newly cleaned stove, not to mention the walls and cupboards. He makes a huge pot of it and then freezes it in Tupper wear to be consumed for weeks and weeks later, until he runs out and waits for us to clean the kitchen again. Another favorite recipe of his is chicken soup. He insists on using bottled water and not broth to boil his chicken, but he never manages to get all the bones out, so there is a surprise in every bowl. It’s become a contest with the kids to see who finds the wishbone.

He also uses way too many forks spoons and knives when he cooks. In fact he doesn’t use the same one twice. I once asked why he does that and his answer was that he was a French cook in his last life and learned to never use the same utensil twice or you might contaminate the food.

But no leftover episode ever ends without a Tupperware lid scavenger hunt, which is about him ranting and raving about where all the lids have ended up (usually this ends up with him blaming Bill Gates, we’ll get to that later). One time he pulled all the Tupperware out, threw them all on the floor, and spent the next hour fitting each lid to each container. Only to find that there were indeed lids missing. Usually the Tupperware ends up being covered with tin foil.

A month later when he made the next pot of spaghetti, all of his work had been undone. All he had to do was look in the back yard, as the boys like to use them as Frisbees.

Every morning he fills the house up with the aroma of sausage or bacon and eggs, and other odors due to the fact that he adds garlic, onions, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms and spinach, the only way to make scrambled eggs according to him. The kids usually like his food but this; they won’t have anything to do with. He usually says, “Well, their Czappa taste buds just haven’t developed yet, give them time.”

The most entertaining part of the day is usually in the evening. The kids take their showers and get ready for bed. While getting their pajamas on, they like to pull them all the way up past their belly buttons and walk around the house saying, “Who am I”. Of course they are imitating their grandfather who usually is always prepared for a flood. Another fun activity in the house is who gets to watch what on the TV at night. I like to watch more popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives or House. Thomas will watch anything sports related, he usually gets booted to the bedroom, and Dad, well he will watch any dating reality show on television. He likes to say he’s dating the women vicariously through the show.

He still dresses like a surfer even though he hasn’t surfed in years, although at age 62 he still skate boards. It is a sight to see him going down the street with cigar in hand, baldhead and all. I wouldn’t say he is a bad dresser, especially since I always give my honest opinion, although try as I might, he can’t seem to shake wearing his pants by his belly button or his white tube socks with brown Velcro strapped sandals. Yikes, I get shivers just thinking about it. He tells me he doesn’t care what people think, I’m an artist I can dress however I want! That is until he is going somewhere important and then he asks for my opinion but usually sticks with the white socks and sandals anyway though.

He had driven his old 69 Ford Econoline van since 1973, longer then my entire lifetime up to now. I had to take my driving test in that old jalopy. Do you know how hard it is to do a 6-point turn on a narrow street in the Glendale hills without power steering? You should have seen the look on the test givers face, especially when I had to unbuckle her, as her acrylic nails were too long to push the button in on the old seat belt. He used to tell me that it would be mine someday and he would paint it pink for me. Thank goodness he never followed through with that threat!! Of course I never expected that when my daughter Alyssa was 9 that he would then threaten her as well !!! She was not having it! I must say though, dad sure got some good use out of that old van, he was able to get over 300,000 miles on it before he had to finely let it go as it needed too much work and he was finally ready for air-conditioning and he just liked the idea of pressing one button to lock all the doors. Keyless entry, what a concept!!! It was kind of sad as it still had the desk he built in it when he took me to school so I could do my homework during the commute home. His new car can hold all the kids and he took them to the supermarket for the first time by himself. He hadn’t realized that it would be an experience akin to herding free-range chickens.

The Falcon likes to sing as he drives and has several songs he has made up. Songs like, “The sky is blue inside my shoe in September, in the rain. The birds are red inside my head, in the winter, in the snow. I’d like to go where the wind don’t blow in the sunshine and please find my lost toupee etc.” He started singing these songs around the house and when taking the kids places and well, now all the kids are singing his songs when I take them somewhere. I started laughing when I heard my son Joshua singing one in the car the other day. My husband Thomas who works with him has a different opinion about dad’s unique song writing skills. The guys at the office get to hear songs about Salinas and whatever rhymes with that. Some mornings he will wake up the kids singing, Mule Skinner Blues, “Good morning captain, good morning to you,” etc. While he sings his songs he does a little dance, moves of which he has made up on the spot and defy written description. You have to see it to believe it!!

Even though he has been writing stories for years, and is a published author, he still keeps pronouncing words incorrectly and his spelling is horrific. You know it’s bad when you use spell check and it doesn’t even know what you’re trying to say. Alyssa, at age 10, often corrects his work. He blames Bill Gates though for spell check not working, in fact he blames him for everything that goes wrong with his computer.

Yes, living with an artist is some kind of an experience. He often tells our guests that they are really visiting his art studio and we are just people who happen to live there too. The garage, uh “Studio,” is filled with everything and anything you might need to make art which is just great for the kids, especially when an art project for school is needed, so all and all not to bad a deal. Sometimes when we have friends over he will get out his guitar and serenade us while we are eating. And when guest leave our home after a holiday dinner he always has to walk them to their car blowing his trumpet, it’s funny, now all the kids find some sort of musical instrument to play and accompany him with this task. Yes, he’ll say; “They’re all becoming fine little Czappa’s.” The kid’s always reply with “we’re Magoon’s not Czappa’s Papa!”
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