Friday, December 19, 2014

"Boy, you don't know cold..."

70 years ago today, my Dad turned 27.

I don't think there was any celebration or official observance.

Perhaps his Mom and Dad had a little party of some sort.

Maybe baked him a cake and sang him "Happy Birthday".

He was absent from any festivities at home.

I'm not even sure that he realized it was his own birthday.

He was busy in Europe, trying to not freeze to death

or get shot or blown up.

The Battle Of The Bulge had begun three days prior,

and within a few more days, his unit would be ordered

to turn north and drive towards the little town of

Bastogne, Belgium.

That battle would last well into January, coupled with

the most bitter weather Europe had endured in 50 years.

When I was a kid, I complained about being cold.

"Boy, you don't know cold.", he said.

Five words formed a lifelong lesson.

Happy Birthday, Pop.

I love you.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Daddy/Daughter Time........

32 years ago this morning I was on the air at K92-FM/Roanoke.

Marianne called the hotline at around 8:20am.

"What's goin' on?", I asked cleverly.

"My parents sold their house.", she replied matter of factly.

"Anything else?"

"Oh yeah. My water broke!"

And I was off....

Our daughter Jessica was born at 4:43pm.

When we left the hospital with her the world

looked different.  Because it was.

One new life that would depend on us.

I remember the feeling that I just couldn't wait to hear her

laugh for the very first time.

And there have been many laughs since.

"Do the funny thing at the door!!!", she would squeal at bedtime.

And I would oblige by pretending to hit my head on the wall

or some such nonsensical act.

Teaching her to fish and shoot.

Participating in the Y Princess Program together.

She was "Little Eagle" and I, of course, was "Bald Eagle".

Earning our deputy black belts in Taekwondo together.

Good stuff, those Daddy/Daughter times....

Don't blink.




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Merry Meltdown......

At present, you can't walk in our home. Anywhere.

Because there's Christmas stuff.  Everywhere.

Lights. Ornaments. And every St. Nicknack that we

could unpack.

Sort of a "Christmas Chernobyl".

I do most of the heavy lifting. Carrying the tree inside.

Trying to be gentle as I navigate the attic pulldown steps

with the 57 pound Rubbermaid container full of oh so fragile

somethings Christmasy.

I practice my Yuletide Yoga as I try to twist and turn myself

into position so as to be able to plug in the window candles.

All of the outlets for them reside behind heavy furniture.

But as crazy as things are now, I know that in a few days,

my bride will have everything decorated perfectly.

She has the spirit.

She has the eye.

She has the patience.

Our home will look like something out of "Southern Living"

magazine.

Well, our downstairs will.







Saturday, November 22, 2014

51 years ago today......

I was in the 4th grade, and on the playground behind Hilton Elementary

School in Newport News, Virginia. We were learning how to play a game

called "Steal The Bacon".

I remember there was a guy on a ladder painting the backboard of the

basketball goal.

Someone came out and told us that President Kennedy had been shot.

Everything after that is a blur.

My Dad kept all the newspapers. I now have them.

I have been to Dealy Plaza in Dallas. I have been on the infamous

"Grassy Knoll". I have looked from the window that was allegedly

Lee Harvey Oswald's perch inside the Texas School Book Depository.

It is a most surreal place.

The debate between "lone gunman" and "conspiracy" will continue

forever, I suppose.

51 years ago today.

I remember.

Do you?


Friday, November 21, 2014

I can hear memories....

I read something somewhere that our sense of smell

is our most memory inducing sense.  I can see/smell how they came

to that conclusion as anytime I'm in a high school gym I am transported

back to eighth grade and Coach Byrd's class, and trying to figure out how

to properly wear an athletic supporter. Good times.

For me I think it is sound, specifically music.

Last evening I sat in my chair, clicking away on my Mac.

Somehow I wound up on YouTube.  It's never a short visit.

One link suggested another, and I rolled through songs from my

youth.

A Beatles song reminded me of the playground behind my elementary

school, and how the boys would split up in groups of four and pretend

to be the Mop Tops. The girls would chase whoever had dibs on being

Paul or John.  Somehow I was always Ringo.  I was OK with that because

I was most concerned about cooties.

A Chad and Jeremy song reminded me of seeing them on an episode

of the "Dick Van Dyke Show".

A Doobie Brothers song and I was back in Roanoke, Virginia.

Dan Fogelberg and I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The old stuff is still fun to listen to, and your subconscious remembers

all the lyrics. (Or at least what you think were the lyrics...)

But... the music takes you somewhere.

And a lot of times, those places are not physical.

They are emotions and feelings.

Joyous. Silly.

Love. Heartbreak.

Carefree. Bulletproof.

Time travel.

Thanks YouTube.





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

There's something cleansing about dirt....

I love where we live.  A little town outside of Raleigh.

Electricity and runnin' water.  Cable TV and an ice maker.

Our home sits on about an acre.  Close enough to neighbors

to yell for help and be heard, but not close enough to raise

a window, whisper a request to borrow a cup of sugar, and have

a neighbor hand it to you from their driveway.

(Do neighbors even borrow sugar anymore?)

At the end of our street there's a big field.  This past summer

it was full of tobacco.  Now it's all plowed and getting ready

for whatever's next.

I walked up there today. The sun was starting to get lower in

the West, casting shadows in the furrows.

That was some beautiful dirt.

Memories of diggin' in it as a kid flashed in my mind.

Looking for worms, or fashioning foxholes for my toy soldiers.

Throwing dirt clods.  Making mud pies.

Gettin' a little dirty helps us come clean....






Sunday, October 12, 2014

A lesson in the leaves...

My favorite color is green.

My favorite colors are Fall.

Marianne and I drove to and from West Virginia this past week.

Going, the leaves were beautiful.

Coming home, they were spectacular.

There was something extra about them this year that struck

a chord within me.

I reflected on the life of leaves.

That little bud in Spring.

With the rain and sun and nutrients from the roots, it flourishes

into its full strength and greenness, allowing it to ride out

the storms of Summer.

But, it is the Fall that brings out its vibrancy.

Fall is when the leaves take your breath away.

Fall is when you feel their power.

Fall is when you appreciate them.

Perhaps we are as leaves.









Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sorry, it ain't here yet......

I know, I know.  It's FALL!!!

Nope.

I don't care what the calendar says.

I don't care that the sun is setting a little after 7pm.

I don't care that there's pumpkin spiced stuff everywhere.

I don't care that I even have had to paw through my sock drawer

because my tootsies get chilly in the morning.

It is not Fall until I have mowed the lawn for the last time

in 2014.

When that happens, I'll be happy to celebrate with you

and don a sweatshirt, sip hot chocolate and put the Hawaiian

shirts away.

I'll let you know when that day comes to pass.

Scratch that.

My wife will let me know when that day comes to pass,

and then I'll pass the word on to you.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Toy Hall Of Fame...

Yep. There's a Toy Hall Of Fame.

It was formed in 1998, which, surprisingly, was 16 years ago and not 6.

This year's nominees are: American Girl Dolls, Bubbles, Fisher Price

Little People, Hess Trucks, Little Green Army Men, My Little Pony,

Operation, Paper Airplane, Pots and Pans, Rubik's Cube, Slip-N-Slide

and the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles....

Two of them will make the cut.

Some classics that have already been inducted include:

The Stick. In my hands it became a sword or bat, gun or fishing pole.

Etch A Sketch. The "original" laptop. I spent hours making boxes

and staircases, and seconds trying to make a circle before I'd give up.

Play Doh. I close my eyes and I can still smell it.

Frisbee. I owned a number of them, and their life expectancy

depended on my ability to keep them away from nearby roofs

and/or our dog, Lucky.

The Cardboard Box is in there too.  I made tanks and spaceships out of

'em...

Fun stuff.

But it wasn't just about the toy.

It was about imagination and pretending.

Because, after all,without them, a stick's just a...........stick.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Seek and ye shall find........

I was looking for another book when I came across this one.

I opened it and noticed the date that it was presented to me.

51 years ago today.

I had just started the 4th grade.

Life was simple.

Of course, a lot has happened over the years.

School. Career. Marriage. Family.

Joy and tragedy.

Life got more complicated.

Finding this Bible reminded me of my roots.

Both physical and spiritual.

I am so very far from perfect, a sinner in thoughts and deeds.

But this Book has been the foundation for a life I've tried to live.

And I'll keep on trying....




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Pyramid Scheme......

I love how the simplest things can trigger a long forgotten memory.

Today I saw a travel brochure that featured the Egyptian pyramids.

I immediately flashed back to my 6th grade social studies class.

We have a project due and I had decided on making a replica of

a pyramid.  I had crafted the shape of the pyramid from cardboard

and wanted to cover it in the same stuff I had made "salt maps" from for

earlier projects.  Young people these days have zero idea what I'm

talking about when I reference "salt maps".

It was a concoction of salt, flour and water, that when blended

properly, would allow you to fashion topographical features onto

the outline of a map that you had drawn on a piece of plywood.

You used food coloring to denote different features.

Blue for water.  Green for land.

But for the pyramid, I needed brown.

I was at a loss, until my Dad came up with the perfect remedy.

Instead of using water, why not try using coffee?

And so I did.

It gave the mixture a very realistic desert appearance.

I presented my pyramid.

It looked great.

I received an "A" from my teacher.

While I can't prove that I'm a unique case, I can tell you

that I'm the only student that I've ever heard of to get an "A"

because their teacher loved the way a project smelled...



Friday, September 12, 2014

They came in a can......

Younger friends think I'm joking.

But I'm not.

They came in a can.  And they were delivered to our front door.

Potato chips.

What a concept.

I can't tell you the last time an ice cream truck rolled through

our neighborhood.

But I remember those chips.

And the big can they came in.

Back when my metabolism mimicked that of a three week

old gerbil.  On crack.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering........................

Silence is the rule in my mornings.

Easier to focus on the day ahead.  The "To Do's" and the "Might Do's"...

Today was different.  I turned on the TV.

I wanted the tributes and the reminders of that morning 13 years ago.

I watched a while and remembered where I was.

Just like everybody did today.

I knew that I would be emotionally raw.

I was surprised to discover that it wasn't the replays on TV

that hit me the hardest.

It was, as it often is, the little things.

I went to get my flu shot, and at the top of the form I had to fill out

was a space for today's date.

The simple act of writing "9/11" jolted me.  I felt a chill.

I left, and on my way home while sitting at a traffic light,

a biker zoomed in front of me with a big American flag

mounted onboard his Harley.

A little further down the road, a big pickup went by with two Old Glorys

flappin' in the sunshine.

I smiled.

My heart pounded.

And there was something in my eye.

Remembering will do that to you.

Never forget.

Never surrender.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane.........

I jet out tomorrow for Wilmington, Delaware.

I'm headed up there to be part of the team that will conduct

their 4th Annual Radiothon For Nemours/DuPont Children's Hospital.

I'm going because I want to.

I'm going because I need to.

The 19 radiothons that I was a part of for Duke Children's

Hospital revealed to me my passion.  My purpose.

I won't be on the air, but I'll be behind the scenes.

And I am quite OK with that.

Coaching the radio talent, and hopefully getting them to

feel what I always felt when I did them.  Teaching them the

importance of emotion.

There are a lot of stats regarding a children's hospital.

How many beds there are.

How many patients are seen yearly.

How many diapers they go through per month.

Those are the nuts and bolts.

But the heart and soul of a children's hospital are

the stories...

The stories of survival and loss, good news and bad,

and the stories about one of the most important four letter

words I know....

Hope.





Friday, August 29, 2014

Music and memories....

Our home received a new addition this past week.

An RCA Victor Stereo Console.

In the notes my mother in law had written prior to her

passing, she had made her desire known that it was to

come to North Carolina and reside with us.

It has a place of prominence in our den.

Marianne and I each brought music to our marriage.

Albums. Singles. LP's. 45's.

They were resurrected this week.

Songs we hadn't heard in years.

We sang along thanks to our our subconscious, which

had filed away every lyric and guitar lick.

Mountains of memories of people, places and things.

And the emotions tied to each.

To drop a needle on the groove.

To hear the crackle and hiss of a diamond on vinyl.

It's not as much how it sounds to the ear.

It's how it sounds to the heart.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You don't need to be a detective.....

I had lunch today with two of my best baby boomer buddies.

If you had been sitting nearby with your back to us, you would

have immediately pegged us as members of that elite

generation, due to one gigantic clue.

Our topics of conversation.

Within seconds of greeting each other, we seamlessly

slid from "What's up?" to "What hurts?".

Second subject was diet.  What we can eat and what we can't eat.

Third subject was what procedure we just endured and/or

what procedure was coming up.

A strong bond between friends is made even stronger when

sharing what the first thing you said was after you regained consciousness

after a colonoscopy.

We "get" each other.  We support each other.

Iron sharpens iron.

We'll do it again in another month or two.

Pick up right where we left off.

Then probably pick up prescriptions on the way home...













Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back To $chool.........

"When did 'Back To School' become big business?".

I asked this aloud as I stood in Staples yesterday to buy

some printer ink.

I was halfway down a line that stretched twenty deep.

And to think, this was even before the kids know exactly

what each class will specifically need.

When I was in school....(Cue the eye rolling from the kids)

I needed a few #2 pencils, some loose leaf notebook paper,

a three ring binder (With "subject dividers" if you wanted to

be all fancy), a protractor and some Bic pens.

We carried our books, stacked on top of one another,

and hooked under our strongest arm, wedged against our

ribs.

 There were zero backpacks.

There were no parades of parents at the beginning and end of

every school day dropping off and picking up kids.

We walked, pedaled our bikes or rode the bus.

My "social media" was television and I was allowed one hour

a night.

Today is different. I'm not saying anything other than that.

And one more question.

When did printer ink become big business?!?!?!?.......









Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Givers and Takers.....

It's part of the Yin and Yang of life, I suppose.

Some people take. Some people give.

Over the weekend, my family and I, like millions of others,

participated in the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to raise funds and

awareness for ALS, aka "Lou Gehrig's Disease".  It has gone "viral"

on social media and millions of dollars have been raised through

the effort.  It was a fun thing to do, and we made a donation.

I just saw an online survey that revealed almost 50%

of people said that they would never do something

like that.  I'm sure they have their reasons.  Maybe they think it

would be embarrassing. Maybe they don't want to be cold

and wet for a few seconds.  Maybe they don't have the money to

donate.

The bothersome thing to me is that some of them won't

because they just don't care.  About ALS patients.  Or about

anything.  You know, the "What's in it for me?" folks.

These are the Takers.

There are all kinds of ways to give.

You can give financial support to great causes. You can give

your time as a volunteer.  You can give your wisdom in a

mentoring role.  You can give a kind word or deed when and

where it's needed.

Takers do none of that.

It took me a long time to realize the truth in the saying, "It is

better to give than to receive."  I've found that it feels better too.

Danny Thomas famously said, "There are two kinds of people in

the world. Givers and Takers. The Takers may eat better, but the

Givers sleep better..."

And I enjoy my sleep.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

"The King is dead...."

On this date 37 years ago, August 16, 1977, I was the mid day disc

jockey and music director at WROV-AM in Roanoke, Virginia.

Around 12:30 a listener called in and asked me if Elvis was dead.

"Are you kiddin'??? No. Elvis is definitely NOT dead."

Late that afternoon I was in my apartment when I noticed that our

afternoon guy was playing Elvis' "Suspicious Minds". I found this odd

because in those days the guys on the air could choose their own

oldies to play.  The current hits had to be played in a particular

order and rotation, but freedom of choice was the rule for the older songs.

I could easily figure out who was on the air simply by hearing the chosen

tunes.  Our afternoon guy never played Elvis stuff. Never.

As the song ended, he announced that Elvis had been found dead

at Graceland at approximately 2:30 that afternoon.

Hmmmmmm.......How did that caller know that he was dead

two hours before he was found?  I went on the air the next day

and asked her to call in again.  I never heard from her, and it

still remains a mystery to me.

Years later in the late 80's, rumors started that Elvis had faked

his own death, and there were "sightings" of him at random

fast food joints around the country.  By then I was doing mornings

in Durham, North Carolina, and we hatched an idea to broadcast

live from Graceland on the morning of  his anticipated return.

I don't recall the date of our broadcast, but I remember the

mathmatical formula for it. The date....month, day and year....would

add up to the total of 2001. Reports were that Elvis believed most

strongly in numerology, and would return on the date that would

match the title of the music that became his "theme song" that played

just before he appeared onstage at his concerts....The theme from

"2001: A Space Odyssey".

As you know, Elvis did not return on that date, or any other for that matter.

That we know of.

And if you think we were totally nuts for imagining that he would

on such a specific date, consider this.

The date of his death was August 16, 1977.

Add up the numbers.  8+16+1977...

Long live the King.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stop the stigma....

I am one of the fortunate ones.

My Dad died on September 3, 2001.

The Towers fell a week and a day later.

In the days that followed, I noticed that I would stand

in my closet in the morning and I couldn't decide

which shirt to wear.  I would stare at my choices and be

unable to just pick one.

I lost interest in everything.

I didn't feel depressed.

I didn't feel anything.

I eventually ended up in a counselor's office, but I wasn't sure why.

"I'm not sure how this works.", I told her.

"Just tell me what's going on.", she replied.

I didn't think I had much to say.

90 minutes later I stopped talking.

"What do you think?", I asked.

"What do you think?", she replied.

"I think I'm depressed."

Bingo.

I came out of it.  I get sad from time to time, but nothing like

before.

But I have seen deep clinical depression in loved ones.

Total breaks with reality.

Friends and family have the very best of intentions when they say,

"But you've got so much to be happy about!!!"

"Just count your blessings!!!"

"Snap out of it!!!"

It ain't that simple.

Depression and mental illness aren't tangible.

We can't see it.

It's in the mind.

It's like a ghost that sneaks up on you.

Pay attention to those around you.

If a friend or family member asks if your wife/husband/Mom/Dad

are OK, perhaps they see something you don't.

Maybe an intervention is in order to motivate a loved one to

seek help for a problem they don't even know they have.

The tragic death of Robin Williams has raised awareness of the

seriousness of mental illness.  We can hope that such awareness

will lead to lives being saved.

But we must...

STOP THE STIGMA.








Monday, August 11, 2014

Rest in peace Robin....

Shazbot.  If you're familiar with the 70's comedy series "Mork And Mindy",

you know that to be a profanity uttered by Robin Williams' alien character Mork.

We were out to eat with friends when the word came down that Robin

Williams had died, possibly by suicide.  He was only 63.

I must confess that I was shocked. And then I wasn't.

This man with the craziest improvisations, this man who brought doses of

delight to millions, and who moved us with his roles in "Good Will Hunting",

"Dead Poets Society" and "Awakenings" had some major inner demons.

Admitted problems with drugs and alcohol, hand in hand with depression,

are not uncommon in the entertainment world.

By all accounts, he was always on.  Always making the audience laugh.

But we can only guess what he was like when there was no audience.

When he turned out the light and his head hit the pillow, where did his

thoughts take him?

How sad and how ironic that a man so adept at making us all laugh

through his need for acceptance, couldn't find a way to accept himself.

Shazbot...



Sunday, August 10, 2014

I'll start again.....tomorrow.

I weighed this morning.  It had been a while.  Apparently.

During the season of Lent I gave up all sweets, allowing myself

some Greek yogurt with honey at night as a substitute for my

ice cream fix.

This reverent strategy helped me drop 12 pounds during the 40 days

of observance.

Another 10 pounds was the goal.

But.....

A road trip to Tennessee for a family reunion with a lot of

Marianne's special trail mix along the way, country cookin'

and fast food stops (Because it's illegal to go to Tennessee

and not eat at a Krystal...) all contributed to my weighty

waywardness.

After I weighed this morning, I gave myself the talk that most

of us give ourselves at a time like that.

Out came the dumb bells and the kettle bell and the "Perfect Pushup"

thingies....I cranked out pushups, squats, curls and crunches. It was back

onboard the "Pain Train" baby, 'cause I was gonna get in shape today!!!

Lean proteins, veggies and lots of water were in order.

Then...........just minutes ago............I walked into the kitchen.

Marianne said, "I found a bunch of Oreo's that we forgot we had.

Now they're kinda stale...", as she shoved one of 'em into my mouth.

If Oreo's had been created in the Book of Genesis, I'm pretty sure

that Eve wouldn't have tempted Adam with a piece of fruit.

My brain shutdown. I was like a shark on a feeding frenzy.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together after a few minutes.

I had righted the ship.  I was back on course.

But one burning question remained.

How does anyone forget they had Oreo's?????








Saturday, August 9, 2014

Better vision with age......

Yep...You read that right.

My vision has improved with age.

Of course, I've had LASIK surgery and cataract surgery on both eyes.

And I have reading glasses scattered around home and Hyundai.

But that's not the kind of vision I'm talkin' about.

I'm referring more to the definition of "vision" as "perception".

I think I see things a little more clearly these days.

I see the things that matter most in sharper focus.

I also see the things that don't matter.

I see the little moments in life as some of life's biggest.

I see the friends who have stuck around when the road got rough.

I believe that I see into events and through people better than ever.

My "Phony-O-Meter" has become finely tuned.

So has my "Real-O-Meter"....

Some things do get better with age....





Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Please remove your shoes, and we'll remove our common sense..."

The text came in yesterday afternoon. Our daughter Jessica, whose business

name is "Rosy Revolver", was hung up at a security gate at Phoenix's Sky

Harbor Airport.

"Do you have a gun in your purse?", whispered the TSA agent.

"No. Oooohhhhhhhhhh.................."

She had been teaching a jewelry class in Phoenix and one of her students

thought it would be a neat thing to give Jessica a toy revolver as a token of

her appreciation for teaching her some of the craft.

I was concerned when she let us know because I'm very aware that some

toy guns can easily be confused for the real deal.

All passengers behind her had been re-routed to another line.

Backup was called. Five TSA agents hovered.

After much debate, it was deemed that she was not a credible threat

to her flight.

She handed the "gun" to me earlier today.

My brain was officially boggled.

I understand that we live in a post-9/11 world.

I'm totally onboard with our need for increased security.

But......this toy resembles a "real" gun about as much as those

little bags of pretzels they dole out on the plane resemble

a "real" snack.





Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rainy day doze........

As I type this, my wife Marianne is asleep in her chair.  It's been

raining on and off all day here in North Carolina.

She and I both got a solid eight hours of snooze last night.

She really shouldn't be sleepy.

The house is quiet.  The ceiling fan is spinning in low gear.

The dogs are curled up on their beds. Both are snoring.

I don't think she was wanting to fall asleep.

Sometimes that's the best kind of nap.

When you think you're focused on something and you

notice that your eyes are crossing.

Or you have some random thought and it penguin

dawns on you that you were almost dreaming.

Yep. That's some pretty good nappin' right there.

To be totally focused on somethin' and before you know

it, you've drifted off to sle











Friday, August 1, 2014

Fading memories....

The irony is not lost on me. The fact that I can't remember the last

time my oldest brother Terry called me by name.

Why would I make note of such a thing?  He had called me

"Billy", "Bill" or "Bubba" my entire life.

Until he didn't.

Because he couldn't.

He doesn't remember.

Today's visit was pretty tough.

I scrolled through photos on my phone.

He recognized a couple faces. Our Dad. Our dog Missy from

forty years ago.

No, he didn't call me by name.  But on this first day of August, 2014

he called me "brother"....

I won't forget.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

One of the good guys.......

A year or two after the CBS juggernaut 'N.C.I.S." began it's run, it still needed

a little help getting the word out. Hard to believe given that it's been the #1

scripted show on network television for the past few years.

Nevertheless, early on we landed a phone chat with it's star, Mark Harmon.

As was a my custom, I liked to establish a bit of rapport with any guest

before we actually rolled on the interview.  The call was scheduled for

9:30am our time, 6:30am his time. He was in the makeup trailer. I picked

up the phone to speak with him one on one.

After introducing myself, I set the wheels in motion...

"Mark, you and I are just a few years apart in age. I gotta ask you,

what's it like going into work everyday with Illya Kuryakin???"

"Illya Kuryakin" was a character played by actor David McCallum

on the 1960's series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.". McCallum is Harmon's

co-star as "Ducky", the team's medical examiner.

Mark jumped on it. "That's the first thing I said to him when I met him!

And David said, 'My God, man. That was 40 years ago!!!'"

Rapport established.

He was funny and honest. 

He famously has a "No Jerks Clause" in his contracts. He wants to

work with good, talented and nice people. Just like he is.

I picked up no sense of an inflated ego.

What you see, and in my case, what you hear...is what you get.

I went onto Google to look for a picture to post here.

My wife Marianne asked if I just wanted her to email me one of her

photos of him.

"When did you take pictures of Mark Harmon?"

"I pause the DVR during "N.C.I.S."..."







Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Beyond the "Act"...

Friends look at the photo and ask, "Is that...?!?!?!?"

Yes. Of course. It's Richard Simmons.

Who else could it be?

I've chatted with Richard a bunch of times on the phone,

and a couple times he came into the studio.

The first time he appeared in person, he burst through the

studio door, mouth on "full auto" and tried to hijack the show.

"Richard! Whoa!", said I.

He looked at me and asked, "Were you in the Marines? You

are so stern..." (Imagine how he would say this...)

He was a blast to have on the air, however we got him.

Larger than life. Wearing his little shorts and tank top.

I'll let you in on something I discovered about him.

Once you get past the "act" and get to the real guy,

you'll uncover one of the greatest "people persons"

you'll ever meet. The second time he came through town

he asked about my wife and daughter by name, and commented

that I was wearing new glasses.

He held a big "Sweatin' To The Oldies" program at the old

South Square Mall in Durham. Hundreds of women stood in line

to meet him. I watched him sit on the side of the stage and speak

quietly to each one. He laughed with them. He cried with them.

No act. Nothin' phony.

Oh, and don't try to eat a doughnut in front of him.

He'll perform the Heimlich Maneuver on you whether you're

choking or not...



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Birthday to me......

I turned 60 years old today. Some dear friends sent me a sweet birthday card

that reminded me that "It's just a number. It's a BIG number, but still just a

number..."

I typed "turning 60" into Google. In 34/100th of a second, it returned

209,000,000 results.

I know people who refuse to admit their age. Like somehow, if they don't

say it out loud, it isn't reality. I have embraced it. I like the sound of it.

Christie Brinkley, the supermodel who graced the cover of the Sports

Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1980 is 60.

Jackie Chan is 60.

Oprah is 60.

Jerry Seinfeld is 60.

And.......Ron Howard is 60.  Did you catch that? Opie is 60.

I'm in great company.

I read the other day that at a press conference with all of the ACC head

football coaches, Duke's David Cutcliffe was the only one who could

name all of the Beatles. He's 59. That's just plain sad.

I almost feel sorry for the younger folks.

I am 60.

What a wonderful number.









Monday, July 28, 2014

Farewell to the Fifties.....

Today marked my final foray in my fifties. The Big 6-0

looms large tomorrow.

Here's some things that happened on my final 50's day.

I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I snacked between each of them.

I fell asleep in my chair.

I mowed the lawn.

I drove to the bank to deposit a check for some work I had done.

I drove home and wrote checks to pay bills and depleted the money

I had just deposited.

Basically, the same kind of things I've done my entire semi-adult life.

When I was a kid, the 60's were a great time of making new friends,

learning new things, gaining in wisdom and experience.

I fully expect the next version of the 60's to provide the same.

Why shouldn't they?




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Motorcycles, movies and memories.....

Perhaps I'm too boring to have had a mid-life crisis.

I tend to be a bit thrifty as well.

Years ago Marianne told me that if I ever felt the need

to choose between a Mustang convertible and a blonde,

to choose the blonde, because "you're such a cheap date,

you'll save us money!!!"

Over the past few years a good number of my friends have

acquired motorcycles. Big Harleys. The kinds that give your insides a sonic

massage when they start 'em up. I'm happy for 'em. I really am.

But for me, every time I see my friends on their bikes, I see

myself...50 years ago.

My friends and I had all seen the movie classic "The Great Escape".

We all had bicycles. We all had baseball cards.

All our Moms had clothes pins.

Simply affix a couple baseball cards to the frame of your bike with

the clothes pins and insert them into the spokes.

Presto!

I. Became. Steve. McQueen.

It's a wonder I survived.

Too bad the baseball cards didn't.

Considering what they'd be worth today,

I could be hoppin' on a Harley myself.

Never mind the blonde.





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The best medicine....

Laughter. Legitimate laughter. Hard to beat.

Shared laughter. Can't be beaten.

Marianne and I have shared a bazillion laughs

in our 34 years together.  We have been known to

have original conversations, but due to the fact that we often

speak in movie lines, our daughter Jessica has declared that

we have no personalities of our own. To which we laugh.

We both know that if we were to just have met, and one were to

introduce the other to "Young Frankenstein" or "The Princess

Bride", or "Best In Show", and the newbie didn't get it....then we would be doomed.

But we both do get them. They are our "Litmus Test Movies".

You probably have a couple yourself. Perhaps "Austin Powers"

or  "The Hangover".

I'm not sure it works with dramas. Maybe it does, but it's much

more fun with comedies.

Laughter is the sticky stuff for us.

Remember: You can't spell laughter without the letters g-l-u-e...





Monday, July 21, 2014

Family reunion......

Marianne and I returned home late last night from a four day trip

to Tennessee.

Last Thursday was spent in Knoxville visiting Barbara, one of

Marianne's cousins on her Mother's side of the family.

The rest of the weekend was in Springfield and Murfreesboro.

Her Father's side of things met at Bob's place.

Four generations under the same roof, and although the Robertson

County Sheriff's Department and Tennessee State Police were placed

on high alert, there was no need for their services.

Chattin', laughin' and eatin'....Not necessarily in that order, and

generally in unison.

There were tears as well. Not everyone at a family reunion

is physically present.

It had been a while since everyone had been together, and so

some "reintroductions" were in order. The kids had grown taller

than their parents. And the kids had had kids of their own.

Somewhere along the way of this family getting bigger,

they accepted me into their fold.

What's the old saying? "You don't just marry the person,

you marry the family..."

I'm glad they said, "I do."







Thursday, July 17, 2014

Halloween in July......

"Hey Honey Mama....would you mind fixing me a cup of your trail mix?"

We were on I40 motoring through the mountains and seeing the

signs for Transylvania County and Bat Cave, NC.

Marianne never buys the pre-packaged stuff. Makes her own.

Almonds. Cashews. Sunflower seeds. Raisins.

Healthy stuff.

Ok, and Goldfish. The cracker thingies. Not the swimming thingies.

And.....mini-Three Musketeers.

And.....mini-Milky Ways.

And.....full sized M&M's.

And.....she made a lot.

And......it was incredible.

To call it Trail Mix is grossly misleading.

I think I'll go with Treat Or Treat Mix.

I think I'm on to $omethin'....  




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tooth Fairy....

The Tooth Fairy has it relatively easy.

No elves to manage. No toys to build.  No lists to make

and check twice. No vet bills for reindeer.

The Tooth Fairy needs two things.

A lotta cash.  And the ability to be super sneaky.

The cash is a bit tricky because there are a lot of

international currencies that have to be carried.

And the ability to swap out a tooth that's under the pillow

that's under the head of a hyper-vigalant kid is beyond

a superpower.

Granted, the Tooth Fairy probably has to travel the globe

every night, but doesn't have to visit every kid.

Our grandson Mason lost his second tooth earlier today.

No doubt he'll wake up tomorrow a bit richer.

Another advantage of youth. Lose something and get paid for it.

If only there were a Hair Fairy...




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Popcorn paws...

There have been seven in our married life.

Missy. Sheena. Schatzie. Fizz. Madchen. Roxy. Sophie.

A Spitz mix. A Golden Retriever. A Golden/Black Lab mix.

A Rat Terrier. A German Shepherd.

A Pit/Chocolate Lab mix. A Goldendoodle.

Each with a personality all their own.

They also shared the traits that are the reasons we love them.

Devotion. Playfulness. Unconditional love.

And the fact that they understand everything that we say.

Scientists tell us that this is not true, but who are you gonna

believe? Some guy in a lab coat or your dog when she goes

nuts because you forgot to spell "walking"???...

All of that and one more thing.

Popcorn Paws.

The pads of their feet smell like popcorn.

Or Fritos. Frito Feet.

Regardless, I love the scent.

You do too.

Maybe you just don't realize it yet.

Go ahead. Smell 'em.

I'll wait...





Monday, July 14, 2014

Pint sized perspective......


I had a very full day today. Jetted up to Philadelphia, then drove to

Wilmington, Delaware to assist in a training seminar for an eight

station radio group, Delmarva Broadcasting. The training involved how

to conduct their radiothon to benefit the Nemours/DuPont Children's

Hospital there.

A great team of professionals who "get" it, and it felt so good to

feel like a member of a team like that again...

I met a Mom with a nineteen year old daughter who has degenerative

liver disease.

I met a Mom with two sons, a one year old and a seven year old.

Both kids have Muscular Dystrophy.

You wanna feel better about your bad hair day, or how hot

it is, or you're bummed because the girl at Starbucks messed up your order?

Take a walk through a children's hospital sometime.

We all need to fill a prescription of perspective...






                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sanctity of the sea......

I learned this week of a little habit that my bride has.

And it's because of a little habit that I have.

Whenever we go to the beach, I strike a particular pose.

I lace my fingers together and place my hands on top of my head.

And I stare at the ocean.

And she takes a photo of me.  Many photos of me.

I see the ocean as all powerful. Infinite.

I see God's presence in it.

I don't know exactly why I stand like this on the shore.

But, in looking at the photos of myself, I'm struck by the

similarity of my pose with that of someone who is

surrendering.

When you surrender, you quit fighting.

When you surrender, you turn yourself over to someone else.

When you surrender, you rely on the provisions of another.

I think I just gave myself a sermon...




Saturday, July 12, 2014

File this one under "Fiction"....

Well, finally...the yard is mowed...Marianne did a pretty good job. Since it was kinda

hot out there, I figured I'd be sweet and turned on the hose for her...That way she

could catch some water now and again without having to come into the house.

No sense trackin' in dirt and grass clippings....She had already vacuumed , swept

and mopped this morning, so I reasoned I was just savin' her from more work....

She seemed real appreciative when I pointed out a few places in the lawn that she 

had missed, and I even offered to tend to them myself next week if need be, but......

she told me not to worry myself about it, and went out and took care of the errors with

a pair of scissors. When she came back into the house, she said that she was probably

just gonna go upstairs and wash off...."No rest for the weary, Sweetie!!!..." I replied. 

"While you were out front fixin' those errors, I was thoughtful enough to light the 

charcoal in the grill...The coals should be perfect right about now!!!...Hope you picked

up a coupla steaks when you went to the grocery store earlier!!!..." She gazed at me

with an expression that could only project how much she loves me...."While you tend

to those steaks, I'll go grab a shower....And, maybe, if you're lucky...I just might shave

as well!!!..."

And then I woke up.....



Friday, July 11, 2014

7-11......

My first thought we I see those numbers is of the convenience store chain.

I grew up where a visit to the corner 7-11 was a daily occurrence.  I would

count out 25 pennies that I had liberated from my brother Terry's stash,

and make my way three blocks to count out an equal number of Fireballs.

The clerk then had to count to 50.  He dreaded my arrival.

Good times.

But on this 7-11, July 11th, a couple of events in my family's

history are top of mind for me.

The photo I've attached is of my Mom and Dad, taken on this date

in 1969, on the occasion of my oldest brother Terry's wedding.

Dad was 51 1/2 and my Mom would turn 50 in November.

He would serve as the "Best Man" for each of his three boys,

because he was.

25 years to the day prior to that event, Dad came ashore on Utah Beach

in Normandy, as part of Patton's 4th Armored Division.

Mom and Dad are no longer with us physically. but through the 

power of a picture I can hold them again.





Thursday, July 10, 2014

Close calls......

It was the mid 90's, and we had left Marianne's parents' place on

Hilton Head after a week of free vacation. (I love free vacations.)

We always joked about driving through thunderstorms, and without a

doubt, the biggest "frog stranglers" I've ever encountered have been

in the Palmetto State.

We were northbound on 95 when the skies turned black and the monsoon

began. The wind was pushing hard from the left.  Visibility was

minimal.

I heard a loud bang, and I was aware of wind and water in my face.

It took me a few seconds to gather my senses.

My driver's side window was gone. It had exploded into the cabin

of our minivan.

Yours truly had some cuts on my arms and hands.

Marianne, Jessica and I were all covered in bits of glass.

I kept driving until we reached an exit with a gas station.

I was OK until we saw the damage. I remember shaking.

The grease monkeys there and a State Trooper surveyed our van.

No one had any idea what hit us. We had seen nothing.

We took a plastic garbage bag, and, you guessed it, duct taped

it in place of the window.

The drive home was a blur.

 We arrived and were greeted by my parents who were

housesitting for us. My Dad looked at the van, and became visibly

upset. He knew, as did I, that the outcome could have been

devastating. Had I been driving a bit faster...or slower...or in a

different lane...

These things happen to us. They happened to our ancestors.

Those blinks of time that determine a hit or miss.

When you think about it, it's an absolute miracle that any of

us have made this far.

But that's what life is, isn't it?

A miracle...







Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Random thoughts from the day......

Just a few things I wanted to pass along today. Just observations.

First, I will never understand people who don't seem happy unless

they are telling me how unhappy they are. I am convinced they

are why God gave us texting.

J. Crew has taken some flak this week for introducing a new size

in their clothing. Size "000". That's like saying "XXXS".

Some are considering it "vanity sizing" run amok.  Vanity

sizing is a marketing ploy whereby stores/brands label clothing

"smaller" than it's standard measure. A size 10 might be labeled

an 8, for example.  I can't imagine anyone feeling good about

claiming to fit into a "000".  That's like having a waist size the

circumference of an Oreo cookie.....which they can't eat.

My wife came in today and asked, "Did you hear me scream?"

I had not.

"That's because I didn't, and I almost stepped on a big snake!!!"

"Well where is it???"

"It crawled under the porch."

That's when "I " screamed...

And finally, I learned today that the estate of John Wayne and

Duke University are in a legal battle over the use of the word

"Duke".  "Duke" as you know, was the actor's nickname. His

estate wants to use it to market bourbon and the University

has a problem with that.

It seems to me that some sort of compromise can be reached,

because, Lord knows, as an avid Blue Devils basketball fan,

those crazy ACC finishes can drive me to drink...






Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our K9 kids.....

"Wanna go ridin'?!?!?..."

Her answer is never "No."

"Wanna go see Rin-Tin-Tin?!?!?..."

I didn't have the heart to tell her that we were goin' to

the V-E-T.

Routine stuff.

Her was scared. Really scared. Yes her was.

Roxy was sweet though, per usual.

That was this morning.

This afternoon saw me going through it all again with

Sophie. Not routine stuff, but nothing serious, and it

needed to be taken care of.

They love the ride. They hate the arrival.

They don't understand. Our hearts break for them.

They trust us. They curl up under us and the chair in the

exam room. Their tails tucked so tightly as if superglued

to their bellies.

Two trips to the vet today tallied right at $400.

There needs to be an Affordable Healthcare Act for our pets.

Our fur kids.

Indeed, I am Roxy and Sophie's Dad, and Marianne is Mom.

That $400 hurt a bit today, but............

It's a small price to pay for an alarm system, bodyguards,

clowns, ball fetchers, bed warmers, swim buddies, tug of war

opponents, therapists and devoted companions.

That devotion. That unconditional love. That connection.

I need to be the kind of person my dogs think I am...







Monday, July 7, 2014

Well, that WOULD explain it........

Needed to run some errands this morning, so I left home wearin'

my "Errand Running" clothes. (Note: Nike needs to market this idea.)

Pretty much what I wear everyday.

Cargo shorts, T shirt and a ball cap. Marianne calls it my "uniform".

 While out, I figured I wanted to get a haircut. The guys I usually go

to were closed. Vacation time. I like their place because it's an

old school hangout, with Sports Illustrated magazines goin'

back to 1997, and while they offer a shampoo, no one has

ever requested one.

I was hesitant at first about the notion of trying out a new place,

but I'd just read an article recently about not being a "neophobe",

someone who hates/fears trying new things.

It was a place especially for guys, with an all girl staff.

They offered me peanuts and coffee. I declined.

Didn't want the peanuts and really didn't want little tiny

gray hairs floatin' in my coffee, even if they were my own.

"Well, what can you do with this?", I asked, pointing to

my dome.

"Uh, shorten it???", came the reply.

Good strategy. I took a seat in the swivel chair.

When she was finished, she spun me around so I could see

her handiwork. This always cracks me up because, what am

I gonna say?  "Put some back!!!"

She did a fine job given that she didn't have much to work with.

Then. Came. The. Encore.

She pressed an electric massager into my shoulders and neck.

Heaven.

She draped a hot, damp cloth over my face.

She reclined my chair until my head descended into a sink.

I can't really say she gave me a shampoo, but washin' my

head was pretty fan-stinkin'-tastic.

When she was finished, she returned me to my full and upright

position.

And that was when I noticed it.  And I laughed out most loudly.

A big bottle of American Crew labeled "Style Remover"...

I'm sure Marianne thinks I fell into a vat of that stuff about

30 years ago.







Sunday, July 6, 2014

A patchwork of pictures......

Marianne did the coolest thing a few years ago... She got a piece of

heavy plywood cut to fit our table in the kitchen area, along with a

heavy piece of glass as well.

She then went to work with old photos and new scissors, cutting them

in jigsaw puzzle fashion until the table top was covered.

The glass seals the deal.

Photos of people and places in our lives.

Moments and memories frozen in time.

The triggering of every emotion.

If you're the least bit OCD, the table will drive you wacky because

the photos are set at all kinds of angles.

The beauty of her design is that where ever you stand or sit, you'll

see something that is perfectly aligned to your perspective.

It's time for an update now. More events to chronicle and new friends and

family members to honor.

Every picture tells a story...

The story of us...