Sam Razook Family Motto

Covid-related lifestyle confinements are still limiting newsworthy/blogworthy events (local, not national) to essentially zero. Time to draw from anecdotes of yore. All families have favorite stories that have been retold from time to time, gaining embellishments in the telling. I’m great at embellishments.

An inordinate proportion of our family stories were based on adventures/misadventures that occurred when Sam was fixing something. The operative word being “Sam;” and the founding premise became the Sam Razook family motto: “We do it ourselves!” “Ourselves” meant Sam, Sally, Samantha, and Dryden. It did not include electricians, plumbers, stone masons, carpenters, or other appropriately trained and licensed professionals.

This modus operando was very satisfactory for almost all situations. Sam was extremely talented at fixing things, as was his father before him. He had more tools than most mom and pop hardware stores. Son Dryden has these genes as well. I grudgingly admitted that Sam’s repairs had saved us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the years. There was a downside to a few of these projects, downside being endangerment of life and limb of any of the participants (Team Razook!).

Dryden related one of the most dramatic of brushes with death during a repair at Sam’s funeral/celebration of life services.  A floodlight bulb on the outside of the house had burned out and needed to be replaced. The bulb and fixture were located just below his farthest possible reach. What had the contractors been thinking? Sam raged and raged at this incompetence. What to be done? Can there be any question? We do it ourselves!

Dryden, about four years old at the time, was harnessed by a sturdy garden hose wrapped around his waist and shoulders. He was lowered in repelling style to the level of the defunct bulb. The bulb was changed, problem solved. Another problem of greater severity was created when I returned from an errand, drove up the driveway, and spotted the miscreants just as they finished their task. Sam barely escaped with his life. He remained undeterred.

Projects and repairs continued apace, and, wonder of wonders, Google became an invaluable source of answers to most puzzling DIY and repair projects. Sam noticed a gathering (flock? swarm? school? murmuration?) of bees entering a vent through the outer stucco of the house into a space between stucco and something. There must be a nest there. This was not to be tolerated. PPE was donned by Sam, and cautious spraying of insecticide ensued, without success. Pest control persons were called, sprays of toxic chemicals were aimed at the vent from distances of 10-15 feet. No luck.

After some meditation, Sam presented us with a solution to the problem. Vacuum the bees into our trusty shop vac. Seriously? His epiphany was greeted with both scorn and hilarity. And even if this effort succeeded in any aspect, what was to be done with a vacuum cleaner canister filled with angry bees? Our disrespect made Sam quite cross (prophet without honor in his own country, grumble, snort) and he stomped to his computer to consult Google.

Google had a solution very similar to Sam’s idea, but took the project one step further. Totally unbelievable. He was beyond vindicated into obnoxious, but who could blame him? The missing piece was to put 2-3 inches of water mixed with a bit of dish-washing liquid into the bottom of the shop vac. As the bees got close to the vacuum hose opening they were sucked in, deposited into soapy water from which they could not escape, and died. What an incredible triumph!

There were still a few logistical problems to be solved. None of Team Razook was willing to stand at the vented stucco area holding the vacuum hose. Plus, Google said suction should be continued over 3-4 hours. So. A ladder was propped against the wall close to the vent to provide support for the hose. The hose opening was appropriately aimed to harvest the most fliers and the whole apparatus was lashed in place. Next, some water was added to the vacuum canister, and a squirt of soap added. The hose and canister were united, and the machine turned on. Success beyond Sam’s wildest dreams!

That would have ended that in most scenarios. Not for Team Razook. An actual count of the corpora delicti was needed for best bragging rights. Dead bees were scooped out of the vacuum with a strainer and plopped onto layers of paper towels. Project manager Sam had no intention of counting the soggy bodies, Dryden had been very helpful in assembling the apparatus. That left Samantha and me. Yuck. Abstaining seemed not to have been an option. Samantha and I took one for the team, and started counting. An amazing total of 1200 bodies were counted, including the queen.

So that endeth the bee anecdote. I’ll wrack my brain for the next two weeks to come up with a funny story in which I can be the main character.

Pray for me. And for all others in need of a smile.

Best, Sally

5 thoughts on “Sam Razook Family Motto

  1. Sally you jogged my memory with this one. I had forgotten about my father’s technique for wasp nests. He would set fire to the end of an old broom and hold up to the nest and burn them out. At a rented office for a family business, he told my mother that he would take care of a wasp nest by the back door on his way out for an errand. My mother worked on…..then came the fire department sirens blazing. I do not remember how the landlord handled the damage. Will have to see if my brother remembers.


  2. You are inspiring me to get busy writing my memoir made entirely of such stories. You are on your way to the same. I have bee stories, too. We successfully used a shop vac as well. Unfortunately, bees loved our house, and eventually there was a new hive.


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