Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Last night we had some lip smackin' good baby back pork ribs.

One of my blogging buddies Buffalodickdy likes to post pics of his great looking cuisine and it inspired me to share this with you. So pull up a chair, grab a handful of paper towels and wet wipes and dig in!

I start with a dry rub that I put on the racks the night before, then before cooking I coat them with dijon mustard. This adds a nice flavor and helps to retain the moisture in them.

Now its time to put them on the Traeger. This is a smoker meets BBQ and the results are awesome. If you want more info on them check out the link. (and no this is not an ad. They are not paying me to pimp their stuff. I just think its a good grill)

The entire cook time for these is around six hours and in the last hour and a half they get several bastings of BBQ sauce. I wish you had a scratch and sniff screen because the aroma is killer.

Lisa made double stuffed potatoes with roasted garlic to go with them. Have I mentioned how much I love my wife!

Fresh corn on the cob would have been my first choice for a vegetable, but in the middle of January it just simply isn't in the cards, so peas it was.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What Did You Say?

I wanted to share a few euphemisms and/or phrases that I've said or heard before. By no means is this an exhaustive list.

In reference to the less brilliant in the world:
  • A couple fries short of a Happy Meal.
  • Not the brightest bulb in the candelabra.
  • Dumber than a burnt stump.
  • Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

A couple of good exclamations:

  • Well dip me in drawn butter!
  • Shit fire and save matches!

For the screaming or incessantly whiny child:

  • Waiter, please bring that kid a big bowl of shut the hell up.

Can be used in the kitchen or in most pawn shops:

  • That's hotter than a sheriff's 45!

For the big shot in your life:

  • You think you're hot snot on a silver platter, but you're just a cold booger on a paper plate!

Instead of saying, "Excuse me... what... or pardon me?" say:

  • "Your what hurts?"

A response for a well wisher after a sneeze:

  • salutation..."Gesundheit" reply... "Comes out loose"

For the perpetually lost:

  • Couldn't find your way out of a paper bag.

Please feel free to share any others that come to mind.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Bit of Snow

Thought I'd step out into the back yard a snap a few photos with our whopping half and inch of snow fall in the background. It will probably melt before the end of the day, but the weather gurus are saying we might get up to three inches overnight. Riiiiight. Pardon my pessimism, but I'll believe it when I see it.

The boys didn't care if it was only a light dusting today; it provided enough for them to don their jackets, go outside and roll up a snow man. They also enjoyed pelting each other with a few snow balls.

As you can probably tell from this photo, it's definitely a snow MAN. They later added stick arms, eyes and so forth which helped to minimize the phallic look, but it gave Lisa and me a good chuckle anyway. (sorry the shot was taken through a screen)

The birds have been coming to this and other feeders in our yard. They were unfortunately a bit camera shy.

Getting a drink proved to be a bit more difficult however. Perhaps I should leave some bird sized ice skates out there for them.

The ferns seemed to be content with their new white blanket,

and the daffodils kept marching upward for their spring display.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


There she sat, stranded along the side of the road. It was getting late and although she was on a relatively well travelled stretch of rural highway, she felt completely alone. One by one the cars whizzed past, seemingly oblivious to the flashing hazard lights on her car.

“Of all the nights to forget my cell phone, this had to be the one.”
She thought.

To herself she said, “It’s only been a half an hour Carolyn, give it a little more time. Someone will stop before much longer.” Somehow saying this out loud seemed to give her some reassurance that it would really happen, but after another fifteen minutes ticked by without so much as a glance in her direction, she was beginning to doubt her own voice.

She considered walking to a place where she could get some help, but the service station up the road was about three miles away and the only thing behind her was even farther than that.

“Twenty years ago,” she thought, “I could have walked that there and back.”

However at the age of seventy-three and the sting of arthritis plaguing her joints, she knew that hoofing it was not in her best interest, if not completely out of the question.

“Damn it Harold!” she exclaimed, “Why aren’t you here to help me? I really need you right now honey.”

It had been nearly a year and a half since her husband of fifty-one years had passed away and this incident was just another painful reminder of how much she missed him.

“It’s funny,” she thought, “when you were around, you used to drive me crazy telling me how to do absolutely everything. Right now though dear, I’d give anything to have you here to tell me what to do next.” Reaching into her purse, she grabbed a tissue and wiped the tears that had begun to flow from her eyes.

The only good news to this situation, if there was such a thing, was that no one would be sitting at home worried about her being so late. She realized however, that also meant no one would be around to call for her if she stayed there.

Sitting in the near darkness with only the faint glimpse of a distant streetlight she started taking a mental inventory of the trunk of her car.

“Let’s see, I remember him showing me where the spare was, and I’m sure there’s a jack in there too. Hmmm, what about one of those things to turn the gizmos that hold on the tire. What are those called again? Are those the nuts or they the bolts? I can never keep those two straight. Well either way that wrenchy thingy must be in there too.”

A little more than an hour had gone by since limping the car to the side of the road and her hopes of getting help were starting fade. Convincing herself that all the components for the task at hand were probably available, she decided to give it a go. Popping open the trunk, she tried to recall anything she’d ever learned about changing a tire.

“How hard could it really be anyway? I’m sure I can do it.” She told herself.

After shifting various objects to one side, she lifted up the carpet that lined the trunk to reveal the doughnut sized spare tire that was held fast by a large metal wing nut. Underneath it she could see what appeared to be a small jack.

“How on earth is that tiny little thing going to lift up this whole great big car.” She thought.

“First things first,” she continued, “now how am I supposed to get this darn thing out of here?”

She started to fiddle with the wing nut trying to loosen its grip, but it was of no use. It was fused to the bolt and no matter how much she struggled to free it; she simply didn’t have the strength in her frail hands to release its hold.

As eager as she had been to try and tackle this dilemma, she was now aware that there was no way she would be able to do this on her own. To compound her feeling of despair a light rain was now starting to fall.

She hated this feeling of weakness and yearned for the strength and independence of her youth. Once again her emotions started to get the best of her and she began to tear up.

“God, please send an angel to help me.” She cried out.

It was no sooner than those words left her lips when she saw headlights approaching.

Again she prayed, “Lord let this be my angel.”

Like a sign from above the vehicle veered over to the shoulder and slowed as it drew near. Looking up with her fist clenched, she hollered, “Thank You!”

As the old beat up pick-up came to a stop a few yards behind her car, she raised her arm to shield the glare of the bright lights, while waving with her free hand in a gesture of thanks.

Her happiness and relief however, were immediately replaced by fear when the two occupants opened the doors and climbed out. Her so called angels were two rough looking, thirty something year old guys with grubby blue jeans and long stringy hair. They had a look about them that suggested there was trouble in the air.

She felt her body tense up as they walked closer and she feared for what might happen next. Starting to back towards the safety of her driver’s door she felt her left ankle twist slightly as her foot caught a small hole in the pavement. This caused her to stumble a bit, but fortunately she was able to right herself before falling. With this the two men raced toward her and she closed her eyes waiting for the inevitable to happen.

“Ma’am, you ok?” she heard, opening her eyes again.

“Startled and frightened she managed to stutter, “Ye...yes, I…I think I’m alright.”

“Ma’am, we don’t mean ya no harm, we jus saw yer lights a flashin’ an thought yous in need of some help.” One of the men said. “You got some kind a trouble with yer car?”

With a sigh she said. “Please forgive me, I’ve been out here for a while and I’m just a bit jumpy.”

the second mand spoke up, “Awe, tain’t nothin’, I know we ain’t much to look at, but we really are decent guys. So what’s the matter with yer car?”

“I’ve got a flat tire and I can’t seem to get the spare out of the trunk. I’d be happy to pay you for changing the tire if you are interested.” She said.

“Shoot darlin’ we’d be happy to fix that for ya, but you sure don’t hafta pay us nothin’ fer it.” As the driver continued he said, “This here’s my brother Jimmy and folks call me TJ.”

The three of them shared handshakes and pleasantries then TJ said, “It’ll take us bout ten minutes or so and we’ll have ya fixed up a ready to go. Ifin ya like you can sit in yer car and wait or if ya prefer you can wait in our truck. It ain’t real pretty but the heaters a runnin’ an it’s nice and warm inside.”

“If it’s just the same to you, I think I’ll wait in the car. I don’t know if I could climb into your truck. It looks kind of tall.” She said.

“Suit yerself ma’am.” He replied.

She got back into her car and sunk into the seat, as the two men got busy changing the tire for her. Sitting there she tried to rationalize her earlier reaction to the men, blaming it on all the news stories she’d heard of about women alone being taken advantage of by non scrupulous individuals.

No matter how hard she tried to explain it away to herself, she realized she was just stereotyping them. She took one look at them and determined without any cause that these two unkempt young men were out to do her harm.

“Shame on you Carolyn!” She mumbled. “How dare you pass judgement on them.”

Continuing her self lecture she thought, “You asked for an angel and you got not only one, but two of them. Sure they didn’t show up in pearly white robes with wings on their backs, but angels none the less, are exactly what they are. Let this be a lesson to you. You may be seventy some years old, but you still have some things to learn.”

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK” Jimmy tapped on the window.

“Ma’am, yer good ta go.” He said.

She got back out of the car and with a twenty-dollar bill in each hand said, “Now please boys, let me pay you something for your trouble.”

In unison they both put their hands up and TJ said, “No ma’am, we thank you kindly, but we can’t charge you nothin’ for helping out a neighbor.”

Jimmy continued on, “Ya see, our mamma done died two July’s ago and we made a friend of hers a promise that we’d help out folks when we could on account a what he done for us.”

“ Did you say July?”

“Yes ma’am, July 20th a year and a half ago.” Said TJ.

She replied, “Oh my goodness, that’s the same exact day my late husband Harold passed away.” Her knees trembled a bit as she felt a cold shiver run through her body.

Composing herself she asked, “Tell me about this promise you made?”

TJ told her about how their mother had suffered through a long bout with cancer and had accumulated a tremendous amount of bills with all of the various medical procedures. He went on to explain that their family was dirt poor and had no way of paying for even a fraction of her bills and if it hadn’t have been for a friend of the family who had graciously offered to pay all of her expenses her time on this earth would have been even shorter and with a lot more pain.

“We offered to pay him back any way we could.” Jimmy said, “but he wouldn’t hear nothing’ bout it. He just told us someone done helped him when he needed it most and all we was to do was to pay it forward in kindness whenever we could. I still don’t know zactly what that means, but I guess it stands for we should help out our neighbors whenever we can.”

Carolyn stood there dumbfounded. Hear were two men, who from the their attire, speech and mannerisms, had grown up in decidedly different social circles than she had, but right now were teaching her a very valuable lesson about life.

“The world needs more people like you boys, thank you.” She said.

“No need to thank us ma’am, I guess now yer just gonna hafta help out someone when you can next.”

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's sunny and (warm?) out there today. The sunny part is valid, with the sun glistening above like a beacon of hope in what has been a long, wet, gray winter. We've had several days in a row now, with only a hint of cloudiness overhead. Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

Now the part about it being warm is a relative term. The mercury actually topped the forty degree mark and I found myself standing in the sunlight while wearing a tee shirt thinking, "It feels nice outside."

I really enjoyed being able to stand outdoors without the skies pouring down buckets of rain on my head or feeling like I had to be bundled from head to toe with multiple layers of clothes to fight off the freezing cold.

As joyous as I was for these meteorological treats, I also found myself thinking, "when did I start to think forty degrees Fahrenheit was warm?"

Trust me friends this is not natural! I want to be like the people in San Diego who have to don a fur parka when the air hits fifty outside. Instead of putting on shorts at sixty degrees I should be thinking about putting on thermals.

Ah yes, but I must remind myself that summer is coming, and during those three days, between the rainy seasons, the thermometer rarely tops 100. So it's something of a trade off I suppose, my frozen butt cheeks of today will soon be replaced by sandals on my feet tomorrow. . . well maybe not tomorrow, but soon anyway.

Come on Spring!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This picture pretty well sums up my overall writing mood today.

Nothing to be concerned about, just having a blah kind of day.

Maybe inspiration will hit later today

Until then ciao.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Real Live Story

As much as I like to write and express thoughts ranging from personal reflection to humor, today I am putting all of these aside and directing you another blog to read from.

I've always been drawn to stories that speak from the heart and when the author is willing to unveil pieces of their past that might not always be the easiest words to express, it seems to resonate even more.

We are all human and we all have parts of our lives that are uncomfortable to talk about. I think it's safe to say that trying to quantify which ones are more or less significant than another persons is foolish. In other words, what might seem like "no big deal" to me, could be a huge stumbling block to someone else, and vice versa. We all have baggage to carry around, but if we are willing to open up and let the rest of the world see even a glimpse of who we are and where we've been, then I think it's safe to say that we'll find out that we are not all that much different from each other. Our individual stories might not be the same, but the pain we try to bury is universal to one degree or another.

The story of Lynn's (Real Live Lesbian) attempt at suicide many years ago is unfolded in her own words which are both chilling and beautifully written. I can tell you that it, unlike so many others, has a happy ending. I encourage you to take the time to read this well written and encouraging post.

You can read the story in its entirety by clicking here, or you can go to her day by day posts (five in all) of it by clicking here. Either way be sure to leave her a comment.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Are You Ready Yet?

"Come on guys, get your shoes on. If you don't hurry up we're going to be late" he barked.

As they continued to wrestle on the bottom step of the stairwell, in unison they replied, "We are hurrying dad."

"My butt cheeks you are! Now come on and get with it."

"Yes sir"

Five minutes later the shoes were on and they were headed out the front door.

Before the door could close one of the boys said, "Mom, I'm hungry."

"You had a half an hour to eat your cereal this morning. Why didn't you eat then?" the mother replied.

"I did, but I'm still hungry." was the boy's response.

"Me too." the other chimed in.

"HONK HONK" The father stuck his head out of the car window and hollered, "Are we ready to go or what?"

"Just a minute," his wife quipped, "the boys are still hungry"

"Big surprise." he muttered to himself.

She sent the boys out to get into the car as she went back inside to get a couple of Pop-Tarts to keep them from 'starving to death'.

They were finally all in the car and pulling out of the driveway. He looked at his watch and figured they would just barely make it there in the twenty five minutes they had left until it started.

He looked into the rear view mirror and caught each of the boys eyes. "Do you think that just once we could get going on time without all the theatrics?"

He continued with his mini lecture, "It's not like this is the first time this has happened. Every week it's the same routine, We're rushing to get out the door and you boys are dragging your feet. I really don't understand what the problem is."

About this time his wife interjected, "Honey, I think they get it."

"I know," he said, "but it's irritating. I mean come on, how many times do I have to go over this same information?

"OK, I get it too. Can you just let it go for now?"


As he drove out of the neighborhood and towards the freeway you could have heard a pin drop in the car. Everyone was afraid to say a word now for fear of igniting another tongue lashing. It's not that there weren't words that wanted to be said, it's just that no one wanted to open the door to another 'warm family discussion'.

He was thinking to himself, "This is shaping up to be another wonderful outing isn't it?"

"Great!" he exclaimed.

"What now?" his wife asked.

"Look at the freeway, It's all backed up." he said. "what the hell's going on? It's Sunday morning, there shouldn't be any traffic out here today."

"Maybe they're doing road work or something." one of the boys interjected.

"Not on the weekend son. It was probably some moron driver going too fast and caused an accident." the dad said. "Now every one's going to have to slow down to gawk and get a close-up look."

As they inched slowly down the road everyone could feel the tension continue to mount.

"What are you doing?" his wife asked.

"I'm just moving over a bit to see what's going on up there." he said, "I want to see how long we're going to be stuck back here."

He steered the car slightly to the right into the shoulder so he could see past the SUV ahead of him that was blocking his view. Just as soon as he had done that he could see an ambulance coming up quickly behind him with its lights and siren blaring.

"Perfect!" he shouted.

Looking to the left he could see the gap was closing in where he had just been a moment ago.

"Come on man! Let me back in!"

Now he was directing his rant at the driver behind him. He threw his hands up in the universal sign of "What's your problem buddy." Which was met by the same gesture from the young male driver behind him.

"Come on you jerk off, give me some room!" he said as he started to bull dog his way back in.


He saw the other driver's lips moving and he figured it was some type of obscenity coming out because it was also accompanied by a wave of only his middle finger.

"You son of a bi..." he started, but was cut off by his wife.

"Dennis, let it go. The kids and I are in this car too ya know."

She'd had enough of his antics this morning and wasn't going to let him continue down this path any longer.

"Try to think about where we're going and stop making everyone around you out to be the bad guy. . . OK?"


His one word response was like a dagger flung through the air, piercing her as it hit.

Less than ten minutes from the time they had joined the freeway back up, they drove past the accident scene and were on their way again.

"Dennis, you're such a horses ass sometimes." he thought to himself.

As the driver who had exchanged unpleasantries with him earlier zipped past, the young man shot a dirty glance their direction and sped off. This time however, no rhetorical gestures or remarks were made.

For the rest of the trip the only audible sound was the hum of the tires as they rolled across the pavement underneath them.

Pulling into the parking lot his wife looked at the dashboard clock and said, "See after all that, we still have about two minutes to spare."

This was of little comfort to him though. He was still replaying all of the morning's events that had brought them to this point.

"Why can't I control my anger better?" he thought. "Maybe there's something here for me after all."

With that, they got out of the car and headed into church.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't Get In My Face

I thought I would give you a little glimpse into my childhood.
I was born back in March of 1966 which for the mathematically challenged would be nearly forty two years ago. I'm the youngest of three boys. Mark is five years my senior and Gene is a whopping seven years olderthan me. Yeah, he's pretty much ancient.

Now when mom and dad had their first look at me it probably wasn't what they were expecting. I'm sure they did the regular counting of fingers and toes, which were all present and accounted for, but when they got to my face it was obvious something wasn't right.

You see, I was born with what is commonly referred to as a cleft lip and pallet. In simple terms it means, in my case anyway, that my upper lip had not grown together properly in the middle. It basically looked as if it had been cut or torn straight down from the base of my nose. As an added bonus the roof of my mouth, known as the pallet, had a rather large hole in it that went to my nasal cavity. As I'm sure you can imagine, I was not exactly the poster boy for Gerber Baby Foods.

And so my journey through this life began. Of course my mom and dad's journey through parenting was also taking on a different direction. What they had come to expect about caring for an infant had instantly changed in the blink of an eye.

Most of the challenges fell on my mom. Part of that reason was because dad had to work long hours to make ends meet and part of it was that forty years ago the rolls of parents were defined differently than they are today. Mostly though, it's because mom always took the time to be a great parent.

Relatively simple tasks for most young parents like feeding their new baby became momentous undertakings. Breast feeding was totally out of the question, and even bottle feeding was nearly impossible. When your mouth can't close all the way you can't form any suction, thereby making either of those options practically null.

Spoon feeding wasn't much easier. When you have a hole in the roof of your mouth food doesn't like to travel in the normal direction. Excuse the graphic, but rather than going down to my stomach, the majority of it would go up and through my nose. I can not even begin to imagine the patience it must have taken to get a meal in me. What should have taken about ten minutes was now stretched into hours.

My father worked for the State of California, and thank the good Lord had fantastic medical benefits. So at the ripe old age of eight weeks old I had my first operation. This would be the first of twenty some odd procedures through my childhood years to correct my unique features.

Stop for a moment, especially if you're a parent, and think about sending your child into the operating room at that age. The absolute fear and heartache my parents must of gone through is incredible. They had to have thought, "This is not what we signed up for!"

They and I would later find out that the surgeon who would perform several of my many operations was one of the best in his field. Dr Trucker was an amazing man. I don't remember much about him, but I have reason to thank him to this day. His type of surgery was not the Hollywood flash variety; it was more of the kind that restored hope to families who had to wonder if their child would ever be able to have a normal face. Thank you doc!
Now when your two or three years old, your parents can't just say, "don't scratch the stitches on your lip." and expect you to listen. Some of you may argue that this 'not listening' stage lasts well beyond this age and continues right on through the teenage years, but that's a whole other story.

Some type of plan had to me made so I wouldn't tear out all the sutures. As you can see from a couple of the pictures, I was fashioned with cardboard tubes around both of my arms so they would not bend. This would keep me from destroying all the work that had just been done to me. I can't help but think this had to be both difficult to deal with and hilarious to watch at times too.
When it came time to learn how to speak, a whole new set of challenges came about. Certain letters and sounds just didn't come out right. Mom tells me that once while grocery shopping I yelled out, "KETCHUP", but what everybody for several isles around heard was "CAT SHIT".

On another occasion while eating at a truck stop type of cafe I looked out at all the big rigs outside and again in an excited little boy's voice yelled, "INTERNATIONAL . . . there's and International out there!", but what came out this time was, "Ear an asshole . . . there's n ear an asshole out there!"

Oh what I'd give for a recording of those priceless moments.

Some years later I would have the good fortune of meeting a speech therapist at Chico State College by the name of Barbara who would prove to be an incredible teacher and motivator to me. The room where she and I sat had a large two way mirror in it so my mom could sit on the other side of the glass and see how this woman would transform my speech into clear communication.

Rather than simply work off of boring flash cards or some other mundane style of teaching, she found out what interested me and let that be the tool I would learn from. One of my favorite assignments was to learn to pronounce the entire starting line up for the 72' Oakland A's. I loved that team and she knew that would be something I'd want to practice.

One other exercise that sticks out in my mind was from the very first time I met her. She told me, "Jeff, when you can correctly say, 'Barbara, I would like an ice cream cone' we'll walk across campus and get you one." Mom says I practiced that line every waking hour for the next week and when I sat down with her again I recited it perfectly. That week's lesson was over and the three of us finished our time over an ice cream cone. Thank you Barbara.

Fast forward several more years to when I was about seventeen. My body had nearly stopped growing (at least up instead of out) and it was time for the final couple of reconstructive surgeries. The hole in my pallet and the "cut" in my lip were nearly gone but my nose was still nowhere close to being straight. As a young man interested in girls, finally getting to have a "normal" face was something I'd been waiting for for a long time.

Enter into my life Dr Micheal Tavis. The plastic surgeon who would transform me into the amazing looking stud that I am today. OK so he didn't get that carried away but he did do some pretty intricate procedures.

He would reshape my nose and lip so that I could be an average looking guy and he would also finish the work on the inside of my mouth at the same time. Even though I was excited to have the work done I was also scared to death about it. Sensing this he invited my family and I to his house where he would go over the entire process of each operation so that I would feel more at ease. How many doctors are willing to do that?

Tragically, Dr Tavis was murdered a few years later so I can not personally thank him now, but none the less, Thank you Dr Michael Tavis.

So there you have it, two great doctors, one wonderful speech therapist, and a family that could not possibly be replaced. Thank you all

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don't Answer That

I feel the need to rant about cell phone etiquette.

Now before I start my well thought out observations (aka whining and complaining), let me preface them by saying that I have a cell phone and I carry it most places go. Did you notice I said most and not all?

It seems more and more people are so attached to their portable communication device, they have it with them everywhere. What used to be a matter of convenience to them has now become more like an added appendage to their body.

How does this happen, and why do these people find it impossible to do simple things like go grocery shopping without carrying on a conversation on the phone? I'm sure you've seem them too, pushing a cart with one hand while cradling the phone between their ear and neck as they attempt to pick up a bag of flour off the bottom shelf.

What the hell is so important that you have to yak incessantly about it while navigating the stores isles? Not once have I heard one of these conversations take place that required immediate attention. I have yet to hear, "Hang up, call 911, and I'll be there as fast as I can.!"

No, the matters of urgency I typically overhear are more like, "Ya, then we were like totally going to go to a different bar, but I said like, 'no way, I'm not going anywhere with that jerk,' so we just stayed there."


How about the classic, "I'm at the store, what do you feel like for dinner?" Is this a conversation that really needs to happen inside the store? Couldn't this person work out the logistics ahead of time and then go shopping?


Then there's the, "I have to wait in a long line so I might as well call someone because I'm so bored" twit. These are the ones you generally have to tap on the shoulder to remind them that the line has moved. They are so distracted by their meaningless blabbering they've completely tuned out everything around them.

Taping their shoulder is the polite way of getting their attention, but whacking them up beside their head would be a lot more fun to do.

How about going to a movie? The last time I went to one, there were three "Silence your cell phone" reminders. Does it really take this many times for people to get it? NO, it apparently takes four or five because some idiot left his on and whats worse, answered it when it rang. Does justifiable homicide apply in this situation? I think it should.

Speaking about wanting to kill. . . how about when you're in the middle of a face to face conversation with someone and they say, "hold on." followed by a raised finger and then they answer a call. I think the next time this happens, when they finish the call and ask, "What were you saying?" I'm just going to turn around and walk away.

I know the conversations all these people are having seem, to them, to be about the most important topic on the planet, but I don't care and I really don't want to listen to it either.

So what irritates you about cell phone abusers?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Love My Job

As many of you know, I'm in the construction business. More specifically I'm a self employed general contractor. I've worked for myself for nearly a dozen years now, and quite frankly I wouldn't have it any other way. Unless of course I was independently wealthy, in which case I wouldn't work at all.

By the way, who are these yutzes that say, "If I won 60 million in the lottery I wouldn't quit my job. I really like it, so I'd keep on working there."

I say to them, "Are you out of your flippin' skull?"

I too really like what I do, but if somebody dropped that kind of money in my pocket, my tool belt would get retired quicker than a Big Mac sitting in front of Rosie O'Donnell. Yes, you could pretty much expect to find me on some white sand beach with a little umbrella sticking out of my Dr Pepper can awaiting my next massage.

"What's that? It's time for my afternoon rubdown?" sounds much better than, "Sure ma'am I'd love to come over to your house in the middle of the freezing cold rainy season and build a deck on the back of your house."

Oh yeah, my job would be a thing of the past!

Well back to reality. To date nobody has offered to give me a big pile of money to spend for them and since I haven't bought a lottery ticket in about fifteen years, winning it probably is out of the question.

This brings me to the original point of this story. During the summer months I typically paint the exteriors of a few houses. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I'm pretty good at it and as a side benefit, the money's not bad either.

What I don't care for are ladders. . . Well maybe that's not an accurate statement. Climbing ladders might be more appropriate. You see I do not like heights at all. To put it mildly, they scare the crap out of me.

I've realized it's very difficult to paint the outside of a house with both of my feet on the ground at all times. In fact, it's down right impossible to do on a two story home.

(Mom, you may want to stop reading now.)

So, I do what I don't necessarily want to. I climb twenty or thirty feet in the air and try to think "happy thoughts". This is much better than thinking about whether or not my body would bounce once or twice if I hit the ground or whether it would just go THUD!

I try to think about what Lisa will be making for dinner that night rather than, "I wonder if the life insurance coverage is enough?"

This past October I, along with my brother Mark, had a two story house to paint that had a bit of a twist to it. Most of it was pretty straight forward, but the front had a couple of features that required some 'special engineering'.

As you will see later, it had a tile roof. Please understand, waking on tile is an art form in itself. If you step on the wrong part, it cracks and does so with very little effort. Now, walking on tile with a layer of moss on it is just plain dumb. Fortunately the few remaining brain cells I have left kicked in and said, "don't even think about it."

The next part of the puzzle was the pitch or the slope of the roof. It had what is called a 8/12 pitch. This means for every eight inches of horizontal length it has, it rises by twelve inches. If you want a general feel for what this looks like take two pieces of paper, stand one up on its side and take the other, using the long side, and form a triangle from the top of the first piece to the table . This is roughly what the pitch of the roof was. If my directions didn't make since, just know it was steep, really steep!

Oh ya, did I mention the front lawn was soft? This meant using a lift was out of the question as it would have just sunk in, creating deep ruts in the front yard. This is not what I would call a problem. No, I thought of it as a challenge. "The house would not win," I declared.

Armed with this enthusiasm and my three remaining brain cells I set out to devise a plan to conquer the task at hand. DING! The light bulb went on, or maybe that was just the microwave, either way I had figured out my strategy.

Back my truck into the driveway and lay my 24 foot extension ladder on the roof and wedge it onto the end of the truck bed. This meant positioning the truck just right so that the ladder matched the angle of the roof perfectly. I would do this so the weight of my delicate frame would be distributed evenly over several feet as I climbed to my perch in the sky. Once at the end of this ladder I would still have another twelve feet to go to get to the top. This meant I'd have to take apart a second ladder and take it with me to the top of the first one. Piece of cake right? One small problem, I had to angle the first ladder across the roof to get to the side of the house in front of the soft lawn.

With that I give you the following two pictures:

(Mom, I know you didn't stop reading earlier, so I'll tell you now, don't look.)

These were taken from my brothers camera phone so the quality is pretty poor and the light is in the wrong position for a good shot, but I wasn't giong to hang out up there until everything was just so.

If I were rich would I quit my job?

You're damn skippy I would!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Update on Gene

I'm happy to be able to report good news about my brother. It looks like everything should turn out OK for him. The blood thinners are working well enough that they felt comfortable sending him home. So his wife fashioned up a bed in the back of his truck (yes it has a shell) and is in the process of shuttling him back to Yreka. I'm pretty sure this qualifies for a redneck ambulance. He has to lay down for the better part of the trip, which is about 4-5 hours. ugh!

I was amazed to find out that now days they treat this type of condition with self injected medication, rather than admitting you into the hospital. Guess my old school thinking of a blood clot immediately causing panic and a long stay in the hospital are a thing of the past. Well everything except the panic part. No matter how many people tell you about having a similar problem or any amount of reassurance from doctors saying it's a relatively minor procedure, when it happens to someone you love, it still feels like a major deal.

So the treatment basically consists of the injections which thin your blood and dissolve the clots in the process. Your body then filters them out. Obviously this is a very over simplified explanation of it, but in a nutshell that's it. You've gotta love modern medicine for these type of things.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of your comments and emails that I received. The feeling of friendship and community that this world of blogging brings is just incredible. You all are very special to me, seriously, that's not just lip service. Behind the posts, pictures, words on the screen, etc., I see wonderful individuals. We laugh and joke together, we spar over issues that we have different opinions about, we cry together when loved ones around us are lost or are hurting, and we come together when in times like this we, ourselves need support form each other.

I've never looked at any of you as just an anonymous writer on the other side of the computer. I see you as individuals with real emotions and feelings. Not everybody outside of this blog world sees that, and I'm sure there are those that never will, but I am grateful that we've found each other and I once again thank you for your support.

I'll be coming by to catch up with y'all later tonight.

Ciao for now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Brother

Hi all,

I just found out this morning that my oldest brother Gene, who writes at Turning the Pages of Life, has two blood clots in one of his legs. At this point he is taking an anticoagulant and will be getting further diagnosis soon. Unfortunately that's all I know at this point.

To compound matters he was out of town when he discovered this, so his wife drove to where he is now, near Sacramento, CA to be with him. We're not sure how severe or mild of a problem it is yet, and obviously we're hoping for the latter.

I know some of you have become acquainted with him through his blog, and I'll keep you updated as I learn more.

My posts may be a bit sporadic for a bit. I just don't feel much like writing right now. Thanks in advance for prayers, positive vibes or thoughts.

Jeff B

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What is it? #3 solved

I know I said Wednesday for the answers, but when did I ever play by the rules any way? It looks like most of the usual suspects have come by and offered up guesses. Mimi gets a gold star for the most creative answers. I have got to take that girl shopping.
I'll do this again soon. I really enjoyed all of your answers. Any suggestions for other stores to do this at? and yes I'm aware I'm enviting trouble by asking you all that question.

#1 Insulation

#2 Step Stool

#3 Stepping Stone

#4 Shopping Cart

#5 Panel Saw

#6 Vertical Rack Support

#7 Rebar

#8 Storage Containers

#9 Shop Vacuum

#10 Register Keyboard

#11 Lumber Cart

#12 Wheel Barrows (not sex toys ya pervs)

#13 Expandable Gate

#14 Electric Panel (without the breakers)

As many of you guessed number ten was the one that nearly had me removed from the store. In my defense, it was all the way out in the garden section with nobody anywhere near it, except me and Mr anal retentive employee that is. He didn't think I was verry funny when I rolled the cover back so I could get a picture of it. It's not like it was turned on with vital statistics concerning national security flashing on the screen. Sheesh!