Sunday, March 30, 2008
The general consensus from those who knew what I was doing was, “You should have your head examined.” At the same time I’ve had numerous comments indicating your eagerness to see said list. Well today my friend is your lucky day…I think.
Before the big unveiling let me tell you, I first thought this would simply be an amusing idea, another way for her to express some thoughts to me. What I found later was that doing this required trust, understanding, some nerve, and above all else, the willingness to hear the raw truth. Sounds easy enough right? I thought so too. Putting the pen and paper in front of her certainly was; waiting for the responses was the challenge.
I suppose it’s worth noting that I don’t have any deep dark secrets hidden from Lisa, so I wasn’t concerned about being confronted on some major issue. No, where the worry came in was in what she’d come up with in regards to the “little things” that can nag at someone over sixteen years of marriage. The things she found cute or amusing when we first started dating, and now years later bug the crap out of her. If you’ve been in any relationship long enough you can probably relate to this.
You may be wondering, “So why the big build up to a list that was originally meant to entertain us?” Well…because one of her responses stopped me dead in my tracks. It was one of the ones that make you re-evaluate your priorities and suddenly shift gears. When it was all said and done the list she handed me had on it a mere thirteen items, not bad I thought, but number thirteen was decidedly different from all the others. It didn’t have the jocularity that the others did. It had, as I referred to earlier, the raw truth.
This is the one I chose to camp on today. As you will see in a bit, it simply could not be lumped together with the others. To intertwine it along with humor and frivolity just wouldn’t be right.
This was what it said, “He needs to spend more time with his boys. Helping them with homework, with Bible verses and just engaging them, and less time on the computer,” Her footnote continued, “OK you asked me for this, and this isn’t only me who is saying or thinking this…so sorry”
As you can imagine, I was completely devastated. My mind went numb and I felt small…very, very small. I looked up at her and as our eyes met I could see both the pain and the relief in her expression. It was obvious that she had wanted to tell me this a hundred times before, but for a multitude of reasons hadn’t. Maybe she was afraid of how I would react. Would I become angry or would I recoil in denial? Perhaps this would drive a wedge in between us and prevent me from ever asking her to be open and honest again?
So there we sat in a long silence as I absorbed the words that were written on the page before me. The God’s honest truth is I don’t recall the exact words I first said, but I can tell you the emotion I conveyed was, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t blow a gasket, nor did I slump into a heap of despair. This was one of life’s little reality checks for me and it had been placed in my hands to deal with accordingly.
I spent the better part of yesterday with our oldest boy looking for a model airplane that we could build together. (Our youngest son was at his grandma’s house, Psycho Mom, spending a couple of his spring break days with her.) As we drove from store to store looking for just the right one, I kept seeing the words from that notepad in my head. We talked and laughed about several things yesterday, like we’ve done on many other occasions, but it was decidedly different this time. This wasn’t simply a quick trip to the store to buy the first plane we saw, it was a time where we, to coin a cliché, spent “quality time” together. I swear I could see a spark in his eyes that was a little bit brighter than other times.
From reading this you may wonder if I spend any time with the kids at all. Please put your minds at ease and know that I definitely do, but as was pointed out to me, perhaps it hasn’t been as focused as should be lately. That’s going to change and I really want to thank Lisa for being willing to bring this to my attention.
I think you have a pretty good idea why this particular issue just wouldn’t fit in with the other “irritations” on her list. I’ll post those twelve another day for you all to enjoy, but for today this will have to stand-alone. Not my characteristic silliness I know, but I promised I would talk about whatever she wrote down and this was far and away more important than anything else.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Now, without further ado, I give you the original and the expanded views:
#5 Bicycle tires
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I made a trip to the local K-Mart today to use my b-day money for some much needed work jeans. Yeah, I'm a big spender on things like that. Ever ready with the camera, I decided to snap a few shots of some various things in the store.Some are pretty obvious, others maybe not so much. See if you can tell what they are and I'll put up a similar post tomorrow night with the expanded views of each of the objects.
BTW I gave Lisa a note pad and pen and asked her to write down all the things I do that irritate or annoy her. (Yes, I like to walk that fine line between brave and stupid) I'll post them when (and if) she hands me a completed list. So far she has seven things listed. I'd like to think I'm doing pretty good, but the reality is, she's probably just getting warmed up.
"Attention K-Mart shoppers...we have a blue light special in _______."
I just realized how monochromatic most of these are. Sorry for the boring color.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
4. Post the Make A Wish Meme and your wishing star on your blog along with these rules.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I’d be willing to bet that after reading that first line, the majority of you are wondering what on earth did I do this time to make Lisa nuts. Surely that could be a whole story in itself, but that’s not what I’m referring to this time.
No, today I want to examine why my darling bride has decided to take it upon herself to single handedly ensure the banana farmers of the world are secure in their profession. Not once in the nearly twenty-one years since our first date (and maybe even earlier) has anyone in the banana belt worried. “I wonder if we’re going to sell enough of our crop this year to make ends meet?”
OK, it’s time for the mathematics portion of this post. I’ll wait for a minute while you gather up your calculator, ten key, or abacas or, if you prefer, the removal of your shoes for extra digits to count . . . . . . Everybody ready? Good. We are each (Lisa and I) forty-two years old. We’ve been married for close to sixteen years and dated for another five years before that. For the slow ones that means we’ve been together for twenty-one years, or exactly half of our lives. (Betcha didn’t know this was going to be a learning experience too.)
So let’s see what we have so far, 21 years of blissful togetherness with 52 weeks in each one, which gives us a running total of…anybody…Bueller…PING! We have a winner. 1092 weeks. All right, pens down, time for a break.
Each week and every week that I can remember Lisa goes to the store and feels compelled to purchase yet another bunch of bananas. There is no choice in the matter; she must do this because the previous week’s victims have now turned into a brownish-black, semi recognizable, fruit fly encouraging specimen resting on our kitchen counter.
Not all of the ones purchased make it to this final resting place, where only a pietri-dish and microscope would be of any real use. Some of them actually do get consumed during the course of their seven-day stay on death row. “DEAD BANANA WALKING” On average however, in the neighborhood of 2-4 of these doomed cylindrical fruits remain just where they were a mere seven days prior. Right there in the kitchen, on the counter, next to the apples in sort of their own private little gas chamber. (FYI apples naturally give off a gas that accelerates the ripening of other fruits in close proximity) This seems particularly effective with bananas.
OK, recess is over. Time for some more math, and this is where it gets tricky. We’ve already established that there have been approximately 1092 weeks of our “togetherness”. Let’s use the conservative number of three, which represents the amount of bananas that have met their untimely demise on a weekly basis.
I offer the following equation: 1092 (glorious weeks) times 3 (dead, rotting bananas per week) for a grand total of… 3276 (poor, petrified, potassium packages)
But wait, “I’ll make banana bread with them,” she says. Great! Do you know how many stinking loaves of bread that is? No math required here; TOO MANY is the answer! Come to think of it, had I of saved all of those loaves; I could have mortared them together like bricks and added a significant amount of square footage to our house by now. What was I thinking?
This is not to say that her baking skills are lacking in any way. Quite the contrary, she is an excellent cook, but after the 200th loaf I figured I’d eaten ten lifetimes worth of banana bread.
What I’m waiting for now is a letter from the Ecuadorian government, thanking Lisa for her years of financial support for their country as well as many other neighboring jurisdictions. That or a note from some farmer in perhaps Costa Rica, showing his gratitude for her continual influx of dollars into his coffers, enabling three generations of his family to be able to purchase houses, all thanks to her banana bucks.
All in all though, I suppose if she has to have a habit, a three banana a week habit is far better that some of the other choices out there. Just one last question, “Does anybody know where BA meets?”
Monday, March 24, 2008
There were times when I thought I'd reach this milestone in only a couple of weeks. This was when the ideas and words would flow effortlessly. Times when I wanted to put two or three posts up in a single day just to get all the words out.
Then there were the lean days, the ones when it seemed as if a hundred posts would take years to get to. I'm sure most of you can relate to this part of the equation at some point of your writing. You want to write something, but the words don't come. Man oh man is that frustrating.
Having experienced both sides of that spectrum, I've come to the conclusion that blogging is much like any other activity in life. Some days will be rich and rewarding, while others end up falling short of our hopes and expectations. Some days we will realize our fifteen minutes of fame when recognition for our humor, imagination, poignant words or some other such thing happens. On the flip side we may find days that feel disappointing to us because our words didn't produce the comments or type of discussions we had hoped for.
There really isn't any right or wrong, better or worse to any of this. It simply is, what it is.
I wonder what the next hundred posts will look like? Honestly, I have no idea, but I have a feeling they will look much like the previous ones. Stories, pictures, thoughts, games and so forth I suppose. I have no agenda with this site, and I like the freedom of that.
One of the things I enjoy the most about this community is the diversity of you all. In my typical day to day routine the chances of meeting and conversing with people from so many different walks of life would be slim at best. Yet here, we are introduced and connected to each other through our blogs. That's pretty darn cool if you ask me.
I considered listing and linking each of your sites here with a few words about why I like to visit them, but I worried that this would turn into a forty-five minute read. Then, I feared mentioning only a few of them would be unfair to the one's that weren't listed, so I decided to do neither and cover it with a blanket statement.
Every one of you has significance to me. You're not just a URL or a blog name, you're a living breathing individual that has become a part of my world. Your posts are kind of like a virtual coffee table that we sit across from one another at. They display a piece of who each of you are and your willingness to take a chance by showing the world bits and pieces of your lives, and that my friends, is not as common as we might think. Laughter, pain, challenges, joy, silliness, strife, anger, bewilderment, awe, excitement,...etc. It's all there in the words you pen and the photos you display day in and day out.
To those of you that frequent my humble little blog, from the bottom of my heart, I say, "Thank You." What a terrific bunch of friends you've become. Here's to all of you and to the next 100. Let's enjoy them together.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Getting the text onto the image was relatively easy, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to save it as one of the acceptable formats for blogger. I tried doing a "save as" in every conceivable way that I could, all to no avail. I wrote to Mimi and thrust myself on the mercy of her royal court.
She gracefully let me off the hook...(this time) and said she would create the image for me and email it to me. I waited...waited some more...and waited a bit longer. Had I been forgotten? Had I been banished to the outer reaches of the realm? Perhaps I had been taken to the dungeon during my sleep and had not yet realized it!
Then, during a quiet break between posting and commenting a light bulb went on...PING!!!
I had an apostrophe (')...I mean I pissed on my knees...I mean I had an idea!
The most bizarre thought came to me... READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.
What?... I said, "READ THE INSTRUCTIONS".
What was this strange new concept? It was foreign to me, but somehow seemed to make perfect since.
Could it really be that simple? You bet your sweet aunt Harriet it could.
I went to the help menu on my graphics program and discovered that if I exported the image rather than trying a "save as", it would work. Humph...imagine that.
Now you may be reading this and thinking, "What's the big deal?" Well my fine feathered friends, the big deal is, that I actually made a computer do something I wanted it to. (insert dancing a jig here)
With that I give you the following:
Kind of anticlimactic after all that perhaps.
The rules say to tag at least five people, but I don't think there are five people left on the planet that have not already seen or participated in this, so if you happen to be one of the ones that somehow missed this, feel free to join in.
If you feel so inclined here are the particulars:
Here are the rules:
You are about to send a virtual Message In a Bottle across the Blog Ocean. Leave a message in the sand or on the bottle. Write anything you wish. Be a pirate or a poet. Serious or silly. Anonymous or not.
What message would you like to send out to the universe?
Message In A Bottle Meme
1. Compose a message to place in your virtual bottle
2. Right click and Save the graphic below
3. Use a graphics program of your choice to place the message on the picture
4. Post the meme and these rules on your blog
5. Return your "Message In a Bottle" to me via email ~ mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.com, sign the Mr. Linky below and leave a comment HERE telling me you've finished. IF YOU WANT YOUR MESSAGE TO BE ANONYMOUS PLEASE SAY SO.
6. Tag a minimum of five people - or your entire blogroll - to do the same. Notify them of the tag.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Tomorrow is egg coloring day! It's going to be a bittersweet day for me. I really have fun coloring up dead chicken embryos with my boys, but it will be the first year my dad won't be here to join in with us. Simply put, that sucks!
I have a feeling the Easter Bunny will be hiding eggs inside the house this year, as the weather prognosticator is calling for rain. That's alright, because I'm pretty sure the boys are wise to the whole six foot rabbit leaving eggs from a chicken on a religious holiday anyway.
Yes I'm a christian, and yes I know the true meaning of Easter, but come on the eggs are still gonna get colored and hidden. Is this wrong?
I try not to throw my religion in anybodies face. I am willing to let anybody know what my beliefs are, but I am also comfortable knowing that not everyone shares them. Wow, how many wars throughout the history of mankind could have been avoided if this was universally accepted?
With that being said, I pose a question to you. What significance, or lack thereof, does Easter have for you?
Thank you in advance for your input, and don't forget to stop by Gene's place too.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Carol had been telling my mom not once, but many, many times about a delicious cherry pie recipe she had come across. It was supposed to be one of those "the best thing since sliced bread" kind of pies. After hearing Carol rave about how good this pie was, mom did what any good friend would do. She said, "If this pie is as good as you say it is how about making one and bringing it over so we can judge for ourselves how wonderful it is."
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Now if you happen to be stumbling on to this blog today or have been away for a while, please let me take a moment to set up the following story. I left for a few days and asked anybody who wanted to leave a random comment, to please do so. I would take all of them and create a story from what you/they the readers came up with when I returned.
You/they came through in a big way, leaving a menagerie of snippets for me to work with. There were thirty-four lines in all, which were about as varied as I could have hoped for.
Your comments are indicated in the story by the bold typeface.
This was as entertaining to write as it was challenging. Thank you all for playing along and I hope you enjoy the following:
“I’m Nuckin’ Futz”
It had been an unbelievably long day, but then again, most days at the institution were.
Starting from the moment I put on my “uniform”, or should I say costume, I was sure this was going to be one to remember. My wife looked at me and said, "You can't go to work looking like that!"
I replied, "It's April Fools', and I think it's perfect."
“Don’t you think those people have enough problems without you walking in wearing a dress and high heels?” she questioned. “Besides, you remember what happened in New Orleans don’t you?”
I had to quickly remind her, “That was YOUR brother down there, it wasn't me, I didn't even go to Mardi Gras with Sherry this year.”
She was right about the outfit though. As I thought back to the company Christmas party, I recalled, “The last time I tried this I ended up in traction for a week, but why should I let that stop me this time? I mean, it's summer now.” Well, it wasn’t really summer yet, but it had been so warm out the past week that it felt like it was.
So there I was, a cross dressers dream, all decked out with my skirt, fishnets and pumps on.
Making my way to the car that I’d parked on the street, I could see some of the neighbors starring at me through their windows.
“I hate Peeps!” I thought.
Then a golden opportunity presented itself. My ultra conservative neighbor Lawrence was working on his car in his driveway. The hood was up and he had his head buried in the engine compartment. This was pretty typical for him on a Saturday morning, but the getup I was wearing certainly wasn’t.
“Maybe this would finally shock the old geezer into having a heart attack . . It'll never work," I told myself.
I decided to give it a try anyway and hollered out, "I love to change my own oil!"
As I said this, he glanced over at me and when he got an eyeful of what I was wearing, he jerked his head up so fast it whacked the hood above him. He let out a yell as he ran his hand across the top of his bloodied head.
The only other thing I said to him as I made my way to the car was, "You can get some cream to take care of that!" but what I was thinking on the inside was, "There was never a time that I did not think of what you said to me that day."
With that I got into my car and drove to work. It was about a forty-five minute drive outside of the city in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and it felt like you were in Timbuktu.
“Where is Timbuktu anyway?” I thought.
I suppose that didn’t matter. I was at my job and would be for the next eight to ten hours. I wasn’t sure what it was that had inspired me to get into this line of work, and I told myself, “Unfortunately, I'm convinced that today--it's not going to be revealed to me...dang it all...”
What today would reveal was that even sane people could act crazy at least one day a year . . . and what better therapy could I offer the patients than the hope that their irrational behavior could be embraced by their shrink?
I was starting to have second thoughts as I made my way down the hall to the “C” ward.
“Is this really such a good idea?” I wondered, “Ah, what the heck, they need a good laugh.” I reassured myself.
With that I opened the door, stepped in, and shouted, "Breaker-breaker One nine, lookin’ for a break."
The place exploded in laughter like it had never done before. I was always known as the “Patch Adams” type around the building and everybody just roared as they took in the sight before their eyes.
Everybody except Jimmy that is. He took one look at me, and then he turned the most interesting shade of purple and flicked his feather boa provocatively. I could tell immediately, he was going to need some more counseling after this encounter.
After everyone (except Jimmy) had a good chuckle, I announced, “April Fool’s” and went to my office to change into my usual attire, which consisted of slacks, a polo shirt and loafers. This may not have been as much fun, but I was likely to have more focused therapy sessions dressed this way.
Today I would make my way around to talk with each of the patients one on one.
My first visit was to Mikey. He was a thirty-two year old man who spent his waking hours playing a made-up game of marbles. The problem was, the rules changed every day and until I learned the day’s rules, Mikey wouldn’t talk about anything else. The only thing that was consistent about his games was that he had five marbles, four blue and one red. So I picked up the marbles... and realized “I'm missing the red one.”
The young man in front of me had a cup in each hand, and figuring this was part of the game, I asked, “Do I need a cup today?”
He replied, “You have to have a cup to play!”
“I don’t know where my cup is?” I said.
He became more agitated and shouted, “What do you mean you can't find your cup? You've got to have your cup to play!”
This went on for a couple of minutes until I guessed that one of the cups he was holding was “my” cup containing the red marble.
That's when I heard that sound... and I noticed the blanket was twitching. Mary was sitting in the chair behind us and she had her favorite green blanket on her lap. Underneath it was a stuffed, dancing bear her mother had brought her recently. Usually, the dancing bear made her laugh out loud. But today she cried, and wouldn't speak a word.
Just then Sol came rushing by us shouting out all sorts of astronomical facts, among which was his favorite, “WOW, did you know mysterious craters were found on Mercury?”
Next it was time to visit Zap. His was a sad tale, which involved the loss of his daughter at a very early age. He had been making great progress too until that fateful day on the back lawn. While the group was having their Sunday picnic he set down his daughter’s favorite doll on the grass but forgot about it. He wished he still had the whole baby, but since the unfortunate incident with the lawnmower... he has never been the same since.
Hank the “Hand Puppet Man” was nervously waiting our turn together. His means of coping was to use a variety of puppets to help communicate. Today he had his penguin out.
“Afternoon Pinfold,” I said.
The penguin nodded in agreement.
“Are you having a good day?” I asked.
With that, Hank and Pinfold, took off for the bathroom a few feet away, waiting in the doorway. Slowly I turned: step by step, inch by inch, until I came face to face with the maddest penguin on the planet. As I got closer, Hank slammed the puppet on the closed toilet seat. I moved the penguin, peeked under the lid, slammed it shut and sighed.
“I can’t believe I ate that whole apple pie!!!” Hank said.
This was discouraging for me. We had come so far and now this had happened. I tried not to let it get to me too much as I led Hank back to the table so we could start all over again.
No sooner had we sat down than Yoko came over to us. The “geisha” reached up and cupped his chin. "Are you happy here, Jiro?" she asked.
Yoko, his name is Hank, not Jiro, and we’re still in the middle of a session here.
“Gominasai.” She replied.
“I burn for you!” Hank said to Yoko.
He loved her but could never tell her about his terrible jock itch. It had plagued him all his life and had kept him from ever being intimate with a women before.
After my talk with Hank, I walked over to Tommy. He had been a professor in Berkley, California before burning out all the circuitry in his brain during the late sixties. He began to tell me of an interaction he’d had with his imaginary friend.
“It was like this man,” he began, “As he pondered the aforementioned question, a wood nymph appeared to him and said... I am on my way to bong fong, that’s what mommy said to daddy when he asked her where she was going. Grandma I don’t know where it is. All I know is it must be far cause mom packed her bags. Call you grandma; when we get back.”
These flashback-induced conversations were common for him, but know matter what he would come up with, he always finished his story with, "There was nothing left but pancakes and the straight razor."
Next I stopped by to talk with Joyce, and in her typical fashion she greeted me with, “Here we go again. Time to pick up the dog poop.”
I asked her if Zap was still bothering her at meal times, but her only response was, “He wished he had more but the dog hadn't pooped more of the baby back out yet.”
Her fixation with feces was a continuing source of wonder for me.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Jimmy, still wearing his feather boa, and playing with something.
“Excuse me Joyce.” I said.
“Jimmy, What are you doing with that toothbrush??” I asked.
“I got an itch on my inside.” He responded.
Thank goodness no one else was watching, because I'll never understand how he got that up there so far.
“Jimmy, You can’t do that anymore!” I demanded.
"Yes, Mommy Dearest," he quipped.
Finishing up my rounds, I was finally ready to go home. As I went to check out with the nursing staff, one of the gals said, “You can't leave now; the storm's coming this way, and its packing 60 MPH winds!”
I thanked her for her concern and proceeded out the door anyway.
I thought to myself, “I’ve got it pretty good by comparison to those poor folks in there. I only have one real question in life and eventually, someone will provide me with the infinite wisdom on how to drink coffee from a white cup without leaving goobers.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Just a quick note to say I made it back home safely. Thank you all for your well wishes, prayers, thoughts . . .etc. for the trip to California. We took care of dad's request to be put in the cemetery by his mother and father and met up with several relitives I hadn't seen in years.
There were about twenty of us all together, so aside from taking care of my father, we cleaned up the area around where all of the other relitives are buried.
All in all it was a good trip.
I took a look at the comments you left for the story and had a great time laughing and wondering how on earth I'm going to create a story with all of them. When I asked you to be random, you certainly did not dissapoint!
I'll be working on getting something put together and will post it asap.
I'll be by to catch-up with your sites during the next couple of days.
Thanks also, for the birthday wishes.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I'll be away from the blog until Tuesday, but I thought I'd try a little something here. You've probably seen the comment game before. The author starts off with a comment asking you to choose between two items, then you ask the next person to do the same.
Another popular one is the story game. The author starts the story with a line or two and the commenter's build upon it with their own input.
My idea is to morph the two together. (kind of) Here's the shtick:
Leave a one or two or . . . line comment about whatever pops into your head. When I get back, I'll write a story using all of the various comments you leave.
No theme or pattern is required; in fact, the more random the ideas are, the more interesting the story will be. Feel free to leave as many as you like too. In other words, when you wake up at 3:00am and think, "He'll never be able to use this one!" go for it. (cause I know I'm the first thing you think of at that time of the morning)
As I write this, I'm realizing with the creative bunch you all are, I'm setting myself up for a pretty good challenge. Oh well, so be it.
"Where did I put that bologna sandwich?"
"Twenty-seven years old and he still had three of his baby teeth."
"That's the last time you'll touch that!"
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Roger from Idaho Daily Photo made this one.
This guy always amazes me with his creative skills for all things computer. His sense of humor and fun with photography make visiting him worth the click every time.
Mary from Work of the Poet passed this one on. She asked that Chuck of Foster Me Up get the credit for making the award.
The very first time Mary visited my blog wasn't the greatest of start for two people, or maybe it was. I posted something that didn't sit well with her and she politely let me know it. This I thought was great! Now if that sounds odd to you, let me clarify. Rather than just get offended and not leave a comment, she took the time to express her difference with me. She didn't do it in a vile or hateful way, she did it honestly. Ahhhhha, that's refreshing. (try to get that in the "real" world)
We commented back and forth with one another and with an apology from me and a "clean slate start" from her we have managed to stay in touch with each others blogs.
I really wanted to share this with you all, because I've seen questions posted before about criticism in comments and whether people will leave them or not. This is proof positive that just because you or I are the recipient of criticism, doesn't mean were are making enemies. I've had my foot in my mouth enough times to appreciate it when someone will set me straight. I may not like it at the moment it's offered, but as I let it soak in, if done properly, it makes me a better person in the long run.
Make sure you vist them if you have a chance.
OK so the trip to California.
In July my father passed away and this weekend we, (mom, brothers, aunts and uncles) are going to place his ashes in the cemetery where his mother and father are buried. Not exactly what you might call a fun trip, but one that needs to be done none-the-less. We have a plaque/marker that was provided by the Navy that will mark his resting place. For some, who were unable to be at his memorial service, it will be a time to say goodbye. For others it will bring closure to them with regard to his chapter on this earth. To me? I'm not sure what it will bring. I'm at peace now, but this will likely bring my emotions to the surface again.
Good part of the trip is that I'll get to hang out with my brother Gene. We always have a great time teasing each other, and with Mark (middle brother) and mom there too it will be a no holds barred sarcasm fest. Ah yes...good times...good times indeed.
I might do a comment game post tomorrow or some variation there of.
I've been a bit lax in getting to all of your sites the last few days. Sorry if I haven't made it by, but I'll try to make it over before I leave.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It’s official. I’ve pulled the plug on the cable.
Now before you start to applaud me for removing the mind numbing, brain sucking box that is the focal point of our family room, wait. Before you give me kudos for saying to the cable company, “I won’t stand for anymore of your endless broadcasts about absolutely nothing.” hold on.
Truth be told, I simply ended the video stream for economical reasons. I’ve come to realize that as the bank account reaches the desperately low level each month, there are still a few days left until it’s time to turn the page on the calendar. Another thing I’m painfully aware of is that those envelopes with the little windows in them keep showing up even if I don’t have any money in my account to pay for them.
So yes, I may be a slow learner on some things, but I eventually do catch on.
Finances are one of those areas that for some reason, I seemed to drag my feet on for far too long. At almost forty-two years old, I took a look at where I was headed, and decided it was time to make some changes.
The first thing to hit the chopping block was the cable. For me it’ll be a bummer when I want to sit down and catch a baseball or football game, but outside of that, I honestly don’t think I’ll miss it all that much. I mean seriously, how many episodes of Law & Order can one person endure anyway?
My wife and youngest son however, are a different story. Without their daily dose of Martha Stewart and Sponge Bob respectively, they may not be able to function properly in society any longer. I honestly think if I told them I was going to take a kidney from each of them, it would have been an easier sell.
Other things to hit the chopping block are the monthly flat fee movie rental pass, and are you ready for this . . . STARBUCKS!!!!
This one may actually cost me a little money up front. You see, both Lisa’s car and my truck have a tendency to pull to the left as we drive by our local Starbucks in the morning, so I’m afraid I’ll have to take both vehicles in to correct this problem!
Well there you have it an easy way to trim about $200 of the monthly budget, which, by the summer time should be about five gallons of gas.
You ever hear people say, “Money won’t make you happy”? I hear that all the time, and I do agree with that, but I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of extra and then find out for myself if I’m happy or sad.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thank you all for the many nice comments throughout my last series of posts on the story "Big League". Some of you were under the impression that I was writing about taking my own son to his first Major League game. This actually was not the case. The story for the most part was fiction, but some of the events of the day were based on memories I had of my first game.
My mom and dad took me to my first game at Candlestick Park 30+ years ago to watch the Giants play the Padres. It was a beautiful sunny day and the Giants did win the game as I recall. I remember being so excited to go to the game that I literally was sick before hand. I know we drove across at least one bridge, but I'm not sure which one(s) it was. Got to go down to the field and meet a couple of the Giants pitchers, and although I don't recall, I'm sure I got to enjoy a hot dog too.
The comment Eric made about the Giants not winning, but that he had fun anyway, came from a similar comment that my own son made recently. Like the father in the story, I too was blown away by the grown up tones of someone of his age.
So again, thank you! I'm sure another story will jump into my head and beg to be written. When it does I'll be happy to share it.
You are all an incredible bunch of people. I feel fortunate to call you friends.
Now for the Jeckle side of Hyde.
Back in September of '07 we did a job for a contractor at an elderly care facility. We were told by the project manager of this construction company that there was water damage to the ceiling in the dining room at the facility. It would require two layers of 5/8 inch sheetrock on the ceiling that was ten feet tall. It would also require several other sheets of rock to be installed on a drop down soffet.
No problem, we negotiated the price and scheduled the job. We loaded the 24 sheets of 5/8 inch sheetrock into the truck and delivered it to the jobsite.
Now for the problem. When we got ready to install the rock, we discovered that it required two layers of 1/2 inch rock instead. This meant we would have to load all of the 5/8 inch material into the truck and take it back to the supplier, purchase the new material and restock the job all over.
I called the project supervisor and explained the problem and that this would be an additional $400.00 for the labor and restock fees. He agreed to this and told us to proceed.
This is the part where I should have stopped everything and made him put this conversation in writing, but because time was of the essence and I trusted him, we continued. Go ahead . . . say it . . . ”MORON”.
Fast-forward five months. We were paid for the original contract amount, but never for the change order. (the additional amount) I have had numerous conversations with various people at the construction company. Every one of them resulted in the same story; we will look into that and get back to you.
If you’re getting the aroma of bullshit wafting across your nose right now, you’re not alone.
For some miraculous reason, not once have they received any of my faxes, or emails. Strange! Oh, and did I mention that the project manager that hired us no longer works for the company?
Well I’ve decided to write this one off. I’m tired of dealing with them, so I have copied my final email to them for your enjoyment.
Somehow I don’t think I’ll be seeing any payment from them now (not that I ever would have anyway)
Apparently you have no intention of every paying for this change order, so I guess you win.
Just another case of a large company bending the little guy over and putting it to him up his back side!
Please know how disappointed I am with your company. How convenient for you that Dan no longer works for your company and that you were able to drag this out for five months so there isn't any way of him being available to speak the truth into this matter.
I have spent entirely too much time chasing your deadbeat company around on this.
Please consider this an invitation to kiss my hairy white ass!
Now run, don't walk to the next poor small contractor that you can screw and let him know how much you don't care.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this and hope I"ve brought some smiles to your faces along the way.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to razz his new friend, Eric turned around and said to the man, “Do you smell that?”
“What’s that short-fry?” was his response.
“That is the smell of sausages cooking!”
Chuckling again, the guy replied, “Don’t count your chickens before their hatched.”
“Let’s not get too carried away young man,” Gail told her son.
The guy leaned forward and told her, “Don’t worry mom, he’s alright. We’re just having some fun.” Extending his hand to her he said, “By the way, my name’s Wes.” Then he directed the last part of his comment to Eric, “Besides, a lot can happen in two innings.”
The top and bottom halves of the eighth inning came and went without any more runners crossing the plate and the Rockies were now down to their final three outs.
A lead off walk and a stolen base had the home crowd a little uneasy. The next batter ripped a line drive past the first baseman for a single and the runner on second advanced to third. The Giants were faced with runners on first and third with nobody out. Another base hit would tie the game.
After running the count to three and o, the pitching coach decided it was time to visit the mound and see if he could calm his closer down a little. It seemed to work because the next pitch hit the outside corner for a strike. The pitch after that, was a little higher up and the batter caught just enough of it to foul it off into the screen behind home plate. The following pitch, a high arching curveball was fouled away again, but this time it was heading straight at Eric and his parents. The young boy had lost interest in wearing his glove some time ago, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The ball was coming in too fast for him to react in time and besides, he wouldn’t have been tall enough to reach it even if he had been ready for it.
It wasn’t out of reach for Wes tough. Much to his own surprise, the man dressed in a Rockies jersey and cap ended up with the souvenir in his hands.
After poking her head up from behind the seat in front of her, Gail checked to make sure her son and husband were ok, and then looked back to see Wes holding the ball high over his head for everyone to see.
“How did you catch that?” Eric asked in amazement.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I just reached up and there it was. Here, you want to take a look at it?”
Stretching out his hand, Eric eagerly said, “Yeah!”
After giving it a thorough examination and showing his mom and dad the scuffmark where the bat had made contact with it, he handed the ball back to his buddy and said, “Thanks.”
He couldn’t believe it; he had got to hold a baseball that was hit by a real big league player. He quickly put his glove back on just incase another one was hit in his direction.
Another ball was hit all right, but not in the direction Eric or any of the other Giants fans had hoped for. This one was heading about three hundred and seventy feet, just over the right field fence, a couple of rows deep. It was a three run shot that put Rockies up by two and the Giants still didn’t have anybody out.
This brought the Giants manager out of the dugout. He was tapping his right arm as he made his way to the mound, which signaled it was time for a pitching change. There were many in the stands who would argue this change should have happened a couple of batters earlier, but what was done, was done.
The decision to replace his struggling pitcher proved to be a good one. The first two batters who stepped into the box went down on six straight strikes and the third hit a line drive to the shortstop to end the inning.
Now it was the Giants who were down to their final three outs.
Roger looked at his son and said, “Well, what do you think? Do they have three more runs in them?”
“I hope so dad.”
Gail enthusiastically said, “Sure they do!”
She continued, “You know what we need to do don’t you?”
Taking off her cap and turning it inside out she said, “We need to put on our rally hats!”
Following his mom’s lead, Eric grabbed his hat and contorted it into its new design.
“Look mom,” he said, “If they get one more run for each of our hats, adding his father’s to the total, they’ll have enough to win!”
Gail pointed out to the crowd and told her son, “Look at all the other people with their rally hats, think how many runs that’d be.”
Eric scanned the stadium and exclaimed, “They’re gonna slaughter ‘em!”
Wanting to tease, but not crush his young friend, Wes leaned forward and said, “Don’t forget about the chickens hatching.”
“I won’t,” he replied.
The bottom part of the line up was due to hit, so the Giants opted for some offensive changes in hopes of generating some quick action in the batters box. Their first, ninth inning hope, swaggered up to the plate and with a slight adjustment to his cup, he was ready.
The first pitch came in high and tight causing him to stumble backwards so as to avoid being hit. Boos rained down onto the field from the fans as the batter righted his self. He dug in with his right foot like a bull getting ready to charge. The next pitch zipped in at his knees and as he made contact with it, everyone jumped to their feet. It was a long fly ball. The center fielder raced towards the fence as fast as his legs would carry him. Reaching the warning track, he stopped and the crowd watched in agony as the ball dropped into his glove.
A simultaneous sigh echoed across the park while the fans took their seats again.
“Ten more feet,” cried Roger, “Ten more stinking feet and that one would have been out of here!”
Taking the roll of the father, Eric patted his dad on the back and said in a consoling voice, “That's all right dad.”
Reaching around to give his son a squeeze, Roger replied, “Thanks buddy.”
You could see the anxiety in Gail’s body language as she clenched her fists. She wanted the Giants to win, but more than that, she didn’t want to see her son heartbroken if they lost.
“Strike!” was the call from the home plate ump.
”Come on . . . come on” Gail heard herself mumble.
The fans started stomping their feet and clapping their hands in unison as an encouragement to the hitter.
“Stomp, Stomp - CLAP! . . . Stomp, Stomp - CLAP!” thundered from the stands.
“Strike!” again was the call.
Eric heard someone a few rows away yell, “Where’s your cup and a cane ump? That was a ball!”
The crowd had paused for a moment, and then began its rhythmic cheer all over again.
Moments later they screamed as the batter connected with the ball and sent it into the gap in left. The left fielder charged after the ball as the runner rounded first. He grabbed the ball with his bare hand and planted his feet for the throw to second. The runner never looked up, instead he laid out and slid into second hoping his legs were faster that the outfielder’s arm.
The second base umpire stretched out his arms to either side and hollered, “SAFE!”
The place exploded into a frenzy as they watched their chances come back alive. The big screen on the center field scoreboard added to the excitement as well, showing the replay several times.
Next up was a left-handed batter who laid down a bunt on the very first pitch catching all of the Rockies off guard. It was beautifully placed, rolling just inside the first base line. By the time the pitcher reacted and picked it up, the runner had advanced to third and his throw to first was too late.
The Giants now had the tying run on first and the winning run at the plate.
This brought the Rockies coach to the mound along with the infielders. After a brief meeting on strategy, the umpire walked out and broke up their pow-wow getting the game back under way.
Two pitches later, the new batter hit a roller to the third baseman. The runners had traveled too far to their respective bases for a play on either of them so he fired a shot over to first for the easy out.
Another run had scored, but the Giants were down to their final out now.
The runner on second took a few steps off the bag, but kept a watchful eye out for a pick-off play. The last thing he wanted was to be caught napping and end up being the final out.
Eric, like many of the other fans, was standing, too nervous to sit. The whole ball game came down to this last at bat.
”What a position to be in,” Gail thought, ”if the guy at the plate gets a hit he’s a hero, if he makes an out he’s the goat.”
After taking the first pitch for a called strike he swung at the next one to cross the plate. This one landed in the stands a little ways past first base. The count was now o and two bringing the fate of the game to one last strike. The next pitch was a low slider that went in for a ball.
“Come on baby, you can do this.” Eric whispered.
The fans watched in disbelief as a 94mph fastball shot by the batter, too fast for his swing. Just like that, the ball game was over. The Giants had lost by a score of seven to six.
“Oh maaaaan!” was Eric’s reaction.
Gail immediately went into ‘protective momma bear mode’, saying things like, “It’s ok sugar,” and “It’ll be all right.”
Eric looked up at her and said something that just about floored her. He said, “It kinda stinks that they didn’t win, but that’s ok, it was fun anyway.”
She stood there speechless. “Did this little boy of only eight years really say that?”
Then, without any prompting, Eric turned around and stuck out his hand to the gentleman he’d had so much fun sparring with and said, “Congratulations Mr. Wes, good game.”
You could have knocked either of his parents over with a feather.
Wes too, was taken aback by the words and composure this little boy was showing and as he was shaking the lads hand an idea came to him.
“Young man,” he said, “the house I live in is kind of small, and I don’t think I have enough room anywhere for this ball I got today.” Pulling the ball he’d caught earlier from his coat pocket, he continued, “Do you suppose you have a spot at your place where you could keep it?”
Eric starred at the ball for a moment then looked at his parents who both nodded in approval. “Are you serious?” he asked.
“You’d be doing me a tremendous favor.” He said as he gave a wink at Roger and Gail.
“You bet I do!”
“What do you tell him?” Gail asked her son.
“Oh yeah, thank you, thank you very much!” Eric said.
“Your welcome Eric, just promise me you’ll take good care of it for me.”
Whatever sting there might have been from seeing his team lose the game had just evaporated in an instant.
This truly was a day Eric would remember forever.
Monday, March 3, 2008
If you're just tuning in, be sure to go back to part one and enjoy it from the begining.
The fourth and fifth innings proved to be more profitable in the runs column for the Rockies than the home team or crowd cared to see. The visitors had managed to score four unanswered runs during that amount of time and the once optimistic young boy was now starting to sit a little lower in his seat.
Gail had an idea. Nudging Eric, she said, “How about you and I see if they have any hot dogs to eat around here?”
Shrugging his shoulders, he lethargically answered, “I guess.”
“Come on sweetie, there’s still plenty of time left in the game. It’s not over yet,” she encouraged.
“We’re going to go get some dogs,” she told her husband, “should we bring back one for you?”
Raising his eyebrows and holding up two fingers, Roger indicated that’s how many he would like.
By the time Gail and Eric made it back to their seats the Rockies had taken the field again and the Giants had a runner on first with the count at three and one and nobody out. Everybody in the park knew the batter would be taking the next pitch all the way, or at least they thought that’s what would happen.
After a glance to first, the Rockies pitcher squared to the plate and released his best change-up. As the ball left his fingers, the runner on first took off for second. Sixty feet, six inches later, as the ball made it to home plate, it was met with a ”SMACK” of the bat. It shot over the first baseman’s head on its way into right field. The ball bounced just inside of the foul line and continued to roll all the way into the corner. By the time the right fielder picked up the ball the lead runner was approaching third and was being waved home. The right fielder, who had a rocket for an arm, threw a laser towards home, but it was slightly off line, allowing the runner to slide safely across home plate.
At the end of the play, the Giants had a guy on second and one run had scored. It was a beautifully executed hit and run that had the fans on their feet once again. The excitement of this play and the mustard laden hot dog that he was enjoying had brought Eric back into good spirits as well.
While the Whitakers enjoyed their ‘gourmet’ meal, the Giants were able to extend the rally and add an additional two runs to their total. These runs, along with the one earlier in the inning, brought the game to a tie at four apiece.
The top of the seventh would see the tail end of the Rockies line up, and as the Giants and their fans had hoped for, they went down in order.
“Do you know what time it is?” Roger asked his son.
“What?” Eric said.
His dad continued, “It’s time for the seventh inning stretch.”
“What’s that?” asked the boy.
Gail chimed in, “Remember the song your dad kept singing in the car this morning?”
“The Cracker-Jack one?”
Smiling, Gail continued, “That’s the one! Now’s the time of the game when the whole stadium gets to sing it.”
While she was finishing her explanation, the other spectators around them were getting up in anticipation of the coming song. The next thing everyone heard was organ music signaling the beginning of ”Take Me Out To The Ballgame”. From the numerous times his dad had crooned the lyrics on the drive to the park, Eric was able to easily follow along as they sung this mid game classic.
It was a toss up for Eric whether he enjoyed singing the song more, or watching his parents act like kids again as they joined in with him and the others. Either way, a good time was had by all, and then a few minutes later the fans settled back into their seats getting ready for the bottom of the seventh.
The first two players went down without a fight, which meant number twenty-five was coming to the plate with two outs. His chances of seeing some pitches in the strike zone with two down were much better this time around.
Sure enough, the first pitch was a fastball to the inside of the plate. The left-hander took a cut at it, but his swing was a millisecond to late and the ball scooted past landing in the catchers’ glove.
“Stee-riiiiike!” yelled the umpire.
A collective groan resounded throughout the stadium as the slugger dug in for another attempt.
The next two pitches went by without so much as a flinch from him bringing the count to two and one. The fans were beginning to suspect he might be walked yet again, but the following pitch came across fat and right down the center of the plate. It must have looked like the size of a beach ball to him, and as soon as he made contact with the white leather sphere, everyone in the park knew this one was headed for McCovey Cove.
A few seconds later it was confirmed as the ball sailed over the right field fence and splashed into the bay just as so many of his had done in the past.
Eric went ballistic. More than anything else, this is what he had hoped to see. He was cheering and dancing and exchanging high fives with his mom and dad and anybody else that offered up a hand.
“Did you see that dad? That was so cool! Holy cow, he creamed that one!”
His excitement spilled out from every pore of his body.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” he continued.
Eric was so busy in his revelry he completely missed the next batter who grounded out to end the inning.
The Giants were once again enjoying a one run lead with only two innings to go. If they could make it through six more outs without giving up another run, they would be able to put another one in the ‘W’ column.
to be continued
Saturday, March 1, 2008
”…and the home of the braaaaavvvve!”
With the conclusion of the National Anthem, the stadium erupted in a thunderous roar. Eric, not wanting to be left out, took this opportunity to let out a few hoops and hollers of his own.
A couple of minutes later the lanky left-handed Giants pitcher flung a 92 mph fastball across home plate for a called strike. The first pitch was in the record books and this ball game was under way.
The Rockies managed to get runners on first and third with only one out, but the next batter hit a grounder to the second baseman who scooped it up and flipped it to the shortstop. He in turn, stepped on the bag at second and gunned it over to first and completed a double play to end the inning. The crowd quickly jumped to their feet and cheered on the home team.
As the Rockies right-hander was taking his warm-up pitches, Roger spotted a vendor making his way down the steps shouting, “Peanuts! Fresh roasted peanuts here!”
Knowing no ball game was complete without them, Roger motioned to the gentleman that he’d take a couple of bags. A few minutes later, as the Giants' second baseman stepped into the batters box, another vendor came by peddling, “Ice cold sodas! Bottled waters!”
Roger thought, ”That’s pretty smart, send the guy by with the salty snacks, then wait a little bit and let another follow in his trail with cold beverages.”
Whether or not it was a deliberate marketing ploy, it worked just the same. Two cokes, a water and several dollars later, along with their bags of peanuts, the Whitaker family was now ready for the next several innings.
The next pitch was a slider that was hit sharply toward the third baseman. Catching it off of one hop, he easily threw out the player at first. The next two batters struck out and hit a fly ball to right respectively, and this meant the fans would have to wait until the second inning to see the all time home run leader make his first appearance at the plate.
The top of the second went by with very little action and Gail suggested Roger take Eric to the restroom before things got more interesting. Eric assured them that he was ok, but once they got to the men’s room he discovered they were right after all.
It was the bottom of the second and the next guy to step up to home plate needed no introduction. His name was in the papers almost constantly, and love him or hate him, he was still the guy who had hit more home runs than any other player in the history of the game.
Eric didn’t understand or even know for that matter, any of the controversy surrounding this man. All he knew was he was thrilled to death to see him in real life and with his own eyes.
The first pitch was low and outside. The umpire signalled ball, and the crowd immediately showered boos in the direction of the opposing pitcher. As far as they were concerned, every pitch to their coveted left fielder should be a fastball right down the middle of the plate so he could crank another one out of the park.
Unfortunately everyone, including Eric, would have to wait for another at bat to see if this would happen, because three strikes later he was headed back to the dugout adding another strikeout to his growing total.
The inning wasn’t a complete disappointment though, by the time the third out had been recorded, the Giants had scored one run on a sacrifice fly that brought the runner home from third.
“What do you think so far?” Gail asked her son.
“This is awesome!” he replied, “Are we gonna get to do this again?”
“Oh, I’m sure we will honey.”
There was an older gentleman, a Rockies fan, sitting in the row behind the Whitaker's who was enjoying some friendly banter with Eric. He playfully teased with the young boy saying, “I sure hope you don’t get to upset when my team wins.”
Eric, being pretty quick with a come back, responded by saying, “They’re not gonna win, the Giants are gonna smoke them like a sausage!”
His comment made the guy roll with laughter as did it Eric’s parents, and this type of jabbing would continue throughout the game, as each of their teams would do something noteworthy.
About the fourth inning, Gail looked over at Roger and said, “Can you believe what a gorgeous day it turned out to be?”
“It sure beats some of those cold, windy days I remember at Candlestick,” he replied.
“What’s a candlestick?” asked Eric.
“That’s the name, or at least it used to be the name, of the place where the Giants played baseball when I was your age,” his dad told him, “It’s where the 49ers play football.”
Eric nodded in agreement, and then asked, “Why’s it called Candlestick?”
“I don’t know,” Roger said, “if I recall right, it had something to do with a type of bird or something.”
That was good enough for his son. ”If that’s what dad says it is, it must be true.” Eric thought.
Looking up towards the outfield Eric asked his father, “Are those candlestick birds dad?”
Fighting back the urge to laugh, Roger refrained from embarrassing his boy and simply said, “No son, those are seagulls.”
to be continued