Monday, June 30, 2014

Do it now......

I had a quite emotional weekend. A trip to Virginia and my hometown sent

my thoughts into overdrive.  Time spent with friends and family reminded me of

perspective and I have benefited from some excellent advice that was given

from a place of love and compassion.

The emotional marathon has continued as I recalled that my Mom passed away

two years ago today.

We were at Marianne's family farm a little south of Roanoke when my

brother called and broke the news.  Mom had been in declining health, both

physically and mentally for years, but it was still a shock.

I left immediately for home.

Somewhere during the drive it occurred to me.....

"I'm an orphan..."

Dad had passed a week and a day before the 9/11 attacks.

Now, in my fifties, this realization hit me. I had never contemplated

how it might make me feel.  I don't know if there is a word to

describe it.

The weekend's trip home reminded me of my roots. Of my ancestors.

Of how much I didn't know.

My advice to you, as cliche as it is, is do it now.

Whatever you have wanted to say. Whatever you have wanted to ask.

If you still have family that have stories of long lost relatives,

have them write them down. Or record them.

The day is coming when you'll want to know.

Ironic I guess, that the longer I live,

the shorter life seems.

R.I.P. Mom...  11/26/1919 - 6/30/2012



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Now and then....

I visited my parents again this morning. As I left the cemetery, I knew

where I would go next. It took only a few minutes.

I drove slowly up the street, watching the numbers on the houses.

40...42...44...and I pulled over in front of 46.

A couple in a car backed out of the driveway and I motioned to them.

Introducing myself, I asked if they lived there.

They did indeed.

"Would you mind if I took a photo of your front door?"

Before they could dial 9-1-1, I explained.

"I grew up a few blocks away. My folks got married here.

And when I say "here", I mean "here"... In your house.

On April 12th, 1942..."

They told me to help myself and drove away.

I walked up the sidewalk and tried to imagine the moment.

Dad was 24, and Mom was 22.

A little over 72 years ago.

Frozen in time.

Now and then...












Saturday, June 28, 2014

Something special......

The late and great Jimmy Valvano famously said, "If you laugh, you think,

and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven

days a week, you're going to have something special..."

I'm up in Virginia this weekend, riding around the old haunts and 

visiting old and dear friends. In a way, it's been an emotional

marathon.  

The first of Jimmy V's Big Three came in the form of tears when I

visited my parents. It was a gorgeous morning with

a brisk breeze. As best as I could tell, I was the only living person

on the grounds. I took a knee in front of their marker and offered them

my thanks. And I offered them my apologies.

I've known my friend Dan since third grade and lunch with him provided

the final two components. We sat near the shore of the James River

and swapped memories of goofy kidhood. We shared knowledge 

of classmates that have done well and others that have fallen

on hard times. We talked a lot about perspective.

Dinner found me at a famous hot dog joint for a rendezvous

with an old radio buddy from the mid 70's. Steve and I kept

our lips flappin' for almost three hours. I knew we had matured

since the old days when we discussed taking the high road in life.

Any chat about "high" back then meant something else.

We closed the place down and stood in the parking lot

takin' selfies and convulsing with laughter. Laughter to the

point of tears. 

It was a heck of a day...




Friday, June 27, 2014

My word of the day......

My word of the day is "friends".

I just returned to my hotel room after visiting with nine of them from

three generations. The oldest ones and I go back to the 70's.

Outside with pizza and beer, listening to the old songs and sharing

old stories. Catching up and imagining the future.

I left my best one this morning at home. She was expecting her aunt,

her cousin and her sister in law in for a Sea Of Estrogen Weekend.

I thought it might be a good time to vanish.

My first stop was to meet Scot for breakfast. Eggs and encouragement

along with a side of grits and grins. Food for the body, mind and soul.

Afterwards, I was northeast bound for my hometown of

Newport News, Virginia. But before I got to my final destination there

would be a stop in the little town of Franklin, Va. Through Facebook,

I had reconnected with a guy I hadn't seen in a while.

"A while" in this case meaning since March of 1963.

I hadn't seen Tim in over 51 years.

We filled in the giant blank as best we could in an hour and a half.

Funny the stuff you remember.

Funny the stuff you forget.

"Friends".  Good word.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

Soccer for the apathetic.....

I settled in to watch the USA play Germany today in the World Cup.

I've been called a "cultural troglodyte" by a most dear friend because I don't

"get" soccer, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's the most popular sport

in the world, right?

So, let me get this straight.

I heard an American player today state that we were playing for

a tie. A tie? That was the goal?

We lost but we advance. Portugal won but they're out.

The clock counts up, not down. And it keeps running even when play

is halted. And the ref adds an arbitrary amount of time at the end of the game

based on............something.

You can't use your hands unless you're a goalie, but not always.

You can use your head but you can't use your teeth.

And while you can't officially "fake" an injury, it's accepted behavior

and the clock keeps runnin' and the play keeps goin', while the actor

has taken himself out of the proceedings and leaving his team a man short.

Try that on any teams I've been on and you won't need to fake a boo-boo.

We're even though, I suppose.

They fake an injury.

And I fake interest.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I think I'll keep her.....

Marianne and I are fortunate as a married couple because, in part, I think

we've grown more alike the longer we've been together.

We're pretty much in line with music, politics, TV and movies.

Though I refuse to watch "The Notebook", and I simply can't handle

another viewing of "Pretty Woman".

She's developed a little tougher skin, and I've become a tad more

sensitive.

But, today......Today was special.

Today I witnessed something that stirred my soul.

We needed to spray some bug infested shrubbery.

I found the potions in the garage, and we uncoiled the garden hose.

But something was wrong with the top of the sprayer container.

With no prompting from me, and totally on her own...

she decided to duct it...

I gotta love her.

And there's somethin' in  my eye.









Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Missy........

Missy would have been 43 years old today....

Funny how I remember her birthday every year.  Maybe because it's

one of my best friends' birthday as well.

Missy came to us from a litter born from my uncle's dog.

Our first pick was a male, but he was too hyper and we traded

him in for one of his female litter mates. She blended perfectly

and became a member of our family for 14 1/2 years.

A mutt in the very best sense of the word, she was a companion,

guardian, playmate and clown.

Her was a good girl. Yes her am was.

Little dogs leave big holes.





Monday, June 23, 2014

Presidential perks......

I can't imagine anyone wanting to be President of these here United States.

Way too much pressure.

No doubt some cool perks though.

Obvious ones like riding in Air Force One, living in the White House

and people actually take your phone calls....

The perk that I might enjoy the most is not having to answer

questions.

You've seen it. The President will hold a press conference. At the end,

reporters will pepper him with queries, and he merely says, "I'm not

taking questions today."  End of story. Done. Game over.

How many questions do we get asked everyday? (There's one if

you're counting...)

Paper or plastic? Cash back? May I have the last 4 digits of your SSN?

Table or booth? Sweet or unsweet? Soup or salad? Cake or pie?

Debit or credit? Better like this, or this?

Just one day I want to say, "Sorry. Not takin' questions today."

"Does this make my butt look big?"

Am I crazy?

Don't answer that.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

More than a window........

Both Marianne's and my paternal grandfathers were Southern Baptist

ministers. Hers was a successful tobacco farmer in Tennessee before

answering the call. Mine was a candy maker among other things.

In 1922 my grandfather became the preacher at little Vinton Baptist

Church in little Vinton, Va. The sanctuary in which he ministered

stood until 1986, when it was demolished to make way for a bigger

and modern facility. My Dad, who was living in nearby Roanoke at

the time, stopped by to reminisce about his father and of his time as

a little boy there. He introduced himself to one of the workmen and

asked if he might have a brick as a memento. The workman replied,

"I think we can do better than that...", and presented my Dad with

a small stained glass window from his boyhood church.

Years later Dad passed the window along to me.

For Christmas one year, Marianne surprised me and had it built into

a new front door for our home. And it is where it will remain until

the day we move.

Growing up, Marianne attended First Baptist Church in Roanoke.

She sang in the youth choir. Somewhere around here is a cassette

that contains her singing a most beautiful solo. It was recorded when

they were visiting for a performance at Vinton Baptist Church.

She had stood and sung within feet of where my grandfather had preached.

When I come downstairs in the morning, with the rising sun's rays

shining through that stained glass window, I am reminded.

Faith.

Family.

Connection.

The little stuff is the big stuff...










Saturday, June 21, 2014

First day of summer........

I love summer. I embrace it. I don't have "Bad Hair Days".

The beach. The mountains. Home. Doesn't matter.

Lots of friends are at the coast this weekend.

A couple are in Asheville.

Two more are in Ireland.

Family vacations create treasured memories.

"You're gonna have fun whether you want to or not!!!"

Please allow me to pass along some advice that my Dad

gave Marianne and me years ago. Keep in mind that Dad was a "cash only"

guy...

He said, "Before you go on vacation, make a pile of the money

you plan on taking. And another pile of the clothes you plan on

taking. Then.....double the money pile and take away half the clothes.

You should be about right."

Experience has told me that he was spot on when it came to the money.

My wife has told me that he was wrong when it came to the clothes.  ;-)






Friday, June 20, 2014

I shouldn't put "Ninja" on my resume...

One of our grandson Mason's favorite shows is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"...

I've tried to convince him that I'm a ninja, but he ain't buyin' it.

I've explained to him that his Mommy and I took Taekwondo back when she

was in middle school....For 2 1/2 years it was some good Daddy/Daughter Time.

After that period we were ready to test for black belt.

That had been the goal. No quittin' til we each earned one..

We ran through our forms and self defense techniques flawlessly.

We broke boards with our hands and feet.

We even broke a 2" slab of cinder block.

But that was just the warm up.  The final test was sparring.

I was called to the center of the workout area, or dojang...

Master Lee called out Nathan to be my first opponent.

Nathan had fire in his eyes and his body was a tightly wound

coil of energy.

Nathan was 7 years old.

On command, Nathan attacked me like I had taken his

last Oreo. My knees and ankles were takin' a beating, when

Master Lee called out another, and another and another to

join in the attack. Soon there was a kicking and punching swarm of them.

It evolved from martial arts to a foot race, with me keeping

ahead of them as best I could. I circled around behind the heavy

punching bag and pushed it towards a coupla of them. It was

no use. They were simply overpowering me. I could think

of only one thing to save myself.

I picked up Nathan and used him as a human shield.

I got some laughs. I got some funny looks.

And I got my black belt.  Jessica did too.

Well, they weren't first degree black belts.

That would require another 6 months of intense training and study.

We wanted black belts and these were black belts.

Mission accomplished.

My official rank is "Deputy Black Belt".

You may think of me as sort of a Barney Fife of the ninjas...










Thursday, June 19, 2014

Above and beyond the call of duty........

24 year old Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter was awarded the Congressional

Medal Of Honor today in the Oval Office...

Here's what the official citation says...

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond
the call of duty while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion,
9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team One, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of 
Operation Enduring Freedom on 21 November, 2010.
Lance Corporal Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force comprised
of two reinforced Marine rifle squads, partnered with an Afghan National Army squad.
The platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota two days earlier in a small village in
the Marja District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local 
Afghan population.
Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position
on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with 
hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position.  Without hesitation
and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved towards
the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast.  When the
grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him but
saving the life of his fellow Marine.
By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the
face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself
and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
He was pronounced "PEA", Patient Expired on Arrival. The docs brought him back.
Corporal Carpenter has endured 40 surgeries, the loss of an eye and most of his lower teeth.
He is not bitter. He uses this event to remind himself to appreciate the small things,
to be kind to others and to let those you love know that you love them.  
I hope to think of him, and others like him, when I believe I'm having a bad day.

Semper Fi.







Wednesday, June 18, 2014

8 Random Thoughts From Today.....

1) The Serenity Prayer is a great way to begin and end each day...

2)  Those little single cup coffee makers aren't for me. I buy a big

      can of coffee for 7 bucks that makes up to 270 cups.

3)  270 is also the number of times our grandson Mason utters

      the word "Why?"...per hour.

4)  Driving a loved one to or from the airport almost always involves

     revealing conversations...

5)  I can make a whole meal out of Harris Teeter's free deli samples...

6)  I must be growin' up because sunscreen now involves more than

     baby oil and iodine...

7)  Playing with Mason in the neighborhood pool converts that pool

     into the "Fountain Of Youth"...

8)  When you see little girls sellin' lemonade from under a shade tree

      in your neighborhood, buy a coupla cups. It'll make their day.

      And yours...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Don't touch it!!!.........

Years ago I called my Dad and told him that I was gonna be paired

with not one, but two women in the studio. I prepared myself for his

sage wisdom that I was sure would include the words "patience",

"diplomat" and "referee".  He offered me six words that he had

gleaned from years in a coed workplace.

"Keep them away from the thermostat."

His words proved true and stood the test of time.

I defy anyone to claim that they ever saw me touch a studio

thermostat.  Every woman I have ever worked with was forever

fiddlin' with it.  Even had one adjust it, and then leave for the day.

I think it goes back to an observation that I have shared before.

There are exceptions to the rules, of course, but generally....

Women are never cold, they're freezing.

Women are never tired, they're exhausted.

Women are never busy, they're overwhelmed.

Women are never hungry, they're starving.

And when my bride reads this, I won't be in hot water,

I'll be in deep doo doo....


Monday, June 16, 2014

Another day at the orifice........

"So, whatcha been doin' with yourself, Bill?"

"Urg, jussg etnfhw ospvwkg aolcmy...", I replied.

Typical conversation with my dentist.

I find that several stainless steel tools and a pair of

hands in my mouth tend to affect my highly polished

speech.  Just kiddin'. I usually speak just like that.

I passed the exam without passing out, and learned that

I have "tight teeth".  I'll take that as a compliment.

I returned home and my bride greeted me at the door

with the news that I needed to make an appointment

for another colonoscopy. Delightful. Another appointment

where the word cavity would be relevant...I was guilty of

"poor prep" on my first attempt and was told that I would

need two days of  "Doomsday Drano" in order to be

scope worthy. I'll tend to that.

Plus, I need to make an appointment for my annual physical

and blood work.

Just coverin' all the bases.

I tend to be a hypochondriac.

Well, at least that's what my gynecologist tells me...


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Fathers Day......

Our daughter Jessica took this photo of my Dad's hands in the final months

of his life... I've often thought of what he had done with them throughout his

time on Earth...
.
They swung a baseball bat, a golf club and a hammer...

They banged out songs on the piano though he couldn't read a note...



They brought on some tears and wiped others away...

They picked up his first cigarette and put his last one down...


They performed magic tricks and rarely lost a game of checkers...


They held guns, baby bottles and the Bible...


They repaired pretty much everything...


They were often cut or bruised...


They were decorated by his granddaughters....


They raised three boys...


They displayed his wedding ring for almost 60 years...


And so much more.


I hope when you think of your Dad's hands your memories are as good as mine...


Happy Fathers Day.....


"My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man..."




Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pinehurst................

Marianne and I first experienced the charm and magic of Pinehurst

on the occasion of our first wedding anniversary. We've returned

countless times, some trips including golf and some not.

We love introducing friends to this Southern slice of heaven.

As a surprise on my 40th birthday she arranged with Pat Corso,

the President/CEO there at the time,  a very special round of golf on

Pinehurst #2 including three of my closest friends. We would have caddies.

The caddies at Pinehurst are truly links to the past, as many had caddied

for some of the legends of the game. My caddie that day was Fletcher

Gaines. Fletcher had caddied for Ben Hogan among other greats.

After I dumped my 5 iron tee shot on the 15th hole into the right

front bunker, and as I wiggled my feet into the sand and addressed the ball,

I asked Fletcher, "How would Hogan have played this shot?"

He deadpanned, "Hogan wouldn't have been there."

I will leave it to the poet Edgar Guest to sum up the feel of Pinehurst.

There are other spots on this gracious earth, where the sky is just as blue. 
There are scenes like these, with the gentle breeze, and the kindly sunshine too.
There are haunts made fine by the stalwart pine, where the charms of a June are
known. But I've learned today in a curious way why Pinehurst stands alone. 
There are gardens fair in the sunny south where the rich magnolias bloom. 
There are fairy scenes with the wealth of greens, and the scent of a sweet perfume.
But more than a sky where the sun shines high, and more than ridge of pine, 
Or a sea or a lake, God needs to make an earthly golfers' shrine. The Lord had 
lavished his treasures rich all over the orb of earth. Yet some are base with the
common place, and some are lost to mirth. But Pinehurst holds in its friendly folds
the lure of an honest grip. And a manhood fine adds to gifts divine the wealth of its
fellowship. It isn't the pine with its towering fronds upraised to the God on high, 
Or the fragrant air that men come to share, and it isn't alone the sky. It's the 
handclasp true, that they seek anew, the smile on the cheery lip, And they come
again to be care-free men in a brotherly fellowship. Here honor counts more than
the victory, and a man is more than his gold; Here love of the game means more
than the fame, or the joy that the prize may hold. Oh, Pinehurst gleams with the finest
dreams, and the best that we mortals know. It is rich in the things that a true life brings,
God grant you may keep it so.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Outnumbered...................

I pretty much knew what to expect.

Dinner and a show...

I was part of a 7 member pizza party this evening,

and I was the only "guy" part.

Six women, including my bride, and me.

The first time our waiter approached and asked if we were ready to order,

I just stared at him and said to him telepathically, "Seriously?"

Second attempt.  Same response.

The third time was the charm, and drink and dinner orders were made.

Then the REAL conversations began.

Topics included....

Bees, the color pink, drunks, kids, travel and the size of their cellphones.

(all were bigger than mine. Good thing I'm not too insecure...)

Also a brilliant impression by a very Southern Belle of an even more

Southern Belle. (I could almost hear Christopher Walken say, "Needs

more Southern Belle...")

I swear to you that these 6 ladies were carrying on 36 conversations

simultaneously.

It's probably a clue why they always win an argument with their husbands.

In a "one on one" conversation, we haven't got a chance...






Thursday, June 12, 2014

Early Father's Day present.....

I'm not a big beer drinker. I'm only 5'9".

I do enjoy tryin' out craft beers and microbrews, especially porters

and stouts. I've convinced myself that the darker a beer is,

the better it is for me. I'm positive that I could Google

that opinion and discover some confirmation from a

porter and stout lovin' doctor somewhere. (Who is probably

a bit portly and stout himself...)

Today my bride presented me with an early Father's Day gift

of a six pack.  But, not of beer.

A six pack of.........reading glasses.

I already have a pair on my nightstand, in my office, by my chair

in the den, a pair that I carry when I go out...

Note: A couple of these are missing stems and/or a lens.

I even have two pairs of sunglasses in my car, each with readers

built in. What a concept!  Brilliant idea.

I have the same deal with a coupla pairs of shooting glasses that

I use at the range....And two pairs of safety glasses for yardwork

complete with "cheaters"...

Soooooooo.....that gives me........

15 pairs of glasses that assist with my "close up" vision.

They are a necessary part of my life now...

I'm glad I have 'em...

And I don't miss the beer goggles of my youth....



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There oughta be a law......

OK......Three things have been buggin' me today...

Minor things, certainly. Hardly important in the giant

scheme of things.  But, I've got some spare time on my hands,

so here goes.

Number 1: People who abbreviate words to sound "cool".  Now,

we all shorten some words. Sayin' "Not a prob" makes total sense to me.

The same with "What's the diff?"  The one that I'm hearin' a lot recently

is "vacay"...As in, "We're going on VACAY next week. When are you

going on VACAY???"

Just sounds.......weird. Like you need to have your pinkie extended

when you say it....

I want so much to respond, "You're going on VACAY? That's FANTASS!!!"

Number 2: Doorbells on TV shows/commercials.  Here's the way it

rolls out.  We're watching TV....There's a scene where someone rings a door bell.

BOTH OF OUR DOGS GO BALLISTIC. Clawed paws trying to dig

into tile, hardwoods and carpet....And MY pulse hits 200. And I drop my cookie.

Number 3: Scented samples of cologne/perfume in magazines hidden behind

a sticky fold in the page. Earlier today I peeled 'em all back in the latest

issue of Men's Health magazine.

The assault on my sense of smell was overpowering.

I discovered that they all smell like a stinky magazine.

And I found out that a paper cut to the nose hurts a LOT.






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's in the bag..................

I was lookin' out my front door, just mindin' my own business.

A neighbor of mine was walkin' by, in the company of his dog.

I sensed that an "event" was imminent, so I stayed vigilant.

Sure enough, the dog stopped, squatted and did his business

right there at the edge of my yard.

"OK good neighbor", I said to myself, "Do your doody, uh, duty."

He removed a plastic bag from his pocket.

He stooped and collected the poop.

He tied the bag.

And dropped it on my lawn...

Then he and his dog went on their way.

I couldn't believe what I had just seen.

I vaulted from our porch and made a beeline for the

discarded deposit.

I picked it up and semi-sprinted after them.

I yelled, "Hey! You forgot somethin'!!!"

He turned...saw me...and yelled back, "It's OK!!!"

"No it's not!!!", and I caught up with him in front of my neighbor

John's house.

I'm normally not confrontational, but I just couldn't let this slide.

"What, huh, huh, huh, do, huh, huh, huh, you, huh, huh, huh,

think you're doin'???, I wheezed.

"Oh, I just bag up my dog's stuff and pick it up when we walk back by..."

So, now I'm standing there, holding a bag of poop that's not even

from my own dog, and I'm wonderin', "Should I just carry it

back to my yard and drop it where I found it and trust him to

remember to pick it up when he walks by again? Should I insist

that he take it with him tell him to never leave a bag of poop

in my yard in the future?"

I made a decision. One that I think would make my Dad proud.

I dropped the bag in John's yard.

John saw this from the seat of his ridin' lawn mower, and looked at

me in a most puzzled manner.

I yelled to him, "It's OK!!!"

I ran back home faster than I arrived....





Monday, June 9, 2014

Poolside ponderings.......

"Why are you lookin' at me, Poppy?", asked grandson Mason as he played in

the pool today...

"I'm just lookin' at you and wonderin' what you're gonna be when you grow up."

I flashed back to his age when I wanted to play third for the Baltimore Orioles.

When I was a kid I went through all kinds of  "when I grow up" scenarios.

Fireman, policeman, astronaut, FBI agent, Secret Service agent, soldier.

It wasn't until late in high school that I started to seriously consider radio

broadcasting.  Once I got to college and got involved with the campus radio

station, the hook was set.

"Mason, I was wonderin' what sports you'll play and what job you're gonna do,

and..."

"I'm not gonna play any sports, and for a job I wanna be a 'Home Daddy'"...

"What's a 'Home Daddy'???"

"I want to stay home and play with my kids."

"Well, that's great, but how are you gonna earn any money doin' that?"

"I guess when I need some money, I'll just find something to do that will

pay me something."

"Ahhhhhh....but then who will watch the kids?"

Silence.

"Hey Poppy! Have you seen the movie "Daddy Daycare"??

So........this is what inspired his noble quest.

"No, I haven't..."

"A guy gets kicked in the weenie!!!"  He squealed with delight.

He hasn't learned that it's not quite that funny in real life.

And he'll learn soon enough that that happens in every job.

At least figuratively....

Good chat today, Mason...

I'll remind you of it one day down the road...

When you're playing third for the Baltimore Orioles...


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Not that you asked me........

but I want to offer you a bit of advice.

You may not need it, want it or care.

That's OK. Here it comes anyway.

It's helped me and I want to share it with you.

It's been almost 15 months since I left my career in radio,

and I've had time to do a lot of stuff that I wanted to do.

Including sleeping eight hours IN A ROW...

I've also had a lot of time for thought and reflection.

I can do it pretty much anytime and anywhere, but mornings are still

"my" time. I usually get up an hour or so before Marianne, and with

a fresh cup of coffee and a screened porch, I do my best thinkin'...

There are three things that I believe are key in keeping me squared away.

1) Count my blessings. I'll never finish the list.

2) Take absolutely nothing personally. NOTHING. As someone once said,

   "What someone else thinks of me is none of my business..."

3) Stay in the present. This is the biggie for me. We've all thought of things we

    should've said or done....or we worry about something in the future.

    Staying in the present...doing what you can do NOW...is most definitely

    your best option.

Of course, to do these things day in and day out is........tough. Because we're human.

Here's a little trick I use to give myself a "checkup from the neck up"

throughout the day.  I put a rubber band around my right wrist. I forget it's

there, but a few times through the day, I'll notice it. Snap it. And ask

myself, "What am I thankful for? Do I feel under attack? Am I thinking

in the present, or am I dwelling on something in my past, or anxious

about the future???... It helps me get straight mentally and emotionally.

Maybe your "cue" could be when you notice your wedding ring, or your

watch or some other piece of jewelry....(Here in Fuquay Varina, a

rubber band IS jewelry.)

Give it a try this week and let me know how or if it works for you...

I know it sounds kinda "Zen-ish", but it helps me.

And 8 hours of sleep IN A ROW doesn't hurt either...





Saturday, June 7, 2014

Text or talk???

Everywhere I go, everyone is texting.

Used to just be the kids.  Not anymore.

I fought it for a good while, but now I'm on board..

Sometimes it  makes things easier, like when I'm out

makin' a grocery run, and Marianne thinks of another

17 things that we need. in addition to the broccoli, bread

and bug spray...

Sometimes it's just because you don't want to have a

conversation. Admit it. You know it's true.  Those people in

your circle that take 45 minutes to tell you how they're doin'

after you ask, "How're you doin'?..."

I could streamline the texting process a bit if I used

abbreviations more....

As a public service, here are some common texting shortcuts

for "seasoned citizens"...

FWIW: Forgot Where I Was

BTW: Bring The Wheelchair
ROFL... CGU: Rolling On The Floor Laughing... And Can't Get Up
DWI: Driving While Incontinent
LOL: Living On Lipitor
OMG: Oy, My Grandchildren!
OMG: Ouch, My Groin!
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On?
WTF: What's Today's Fish?
WTF: Wet The Furniture
IMHMO: In My HMO...
RULKM: Are You Leaving Kids Money?
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
GTG: Gotta Groan
TGIF: Thank Goodness It's Four (Four O'Clock - Early Bird Special)
FWB: Friend With Betablockers
FYI: For Your Indigestion...
JK: Just Kvetching
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
MILF: Meal I'd Like To Forget
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
LWO: Lawrence Welk's On
MGAD: My Grandson's A Doctor
SUS: Speak Up, Sonny
WIWYA: When I Was Your Age
GOML: Get Off My Lawn
And a coupla more that I thought of....
SNO: Sorry, Nodded Off
FIOF Fiber Is Our Friend
WMWITFB Wake Me When It's Time For Bed
Good luck with that texting thing...
And always remember...
"Honk if you love Jesus...Text while drivin' if you wanna meet Him..."




Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 1944......and more.

It was my first thought upon awakening this morning...

"70 years ago at this very moment..."

Those first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" depicting the D Day landings?

The real thing was happening not that long ago, and for far longer than 20 minutes.

My Dad went ashore at Utah Beach on July 11, 1944, and I imagined he

saw the horrors of war until it was over.  I didn't take him to see "Private Ryan"

at the theater because I had heard of some vets having heart attacks,

so I waited for it's release on VHS tape. I figured it would be less intense

on the small screen.

We rolled the tape one night after dinner...He made it through the D Day

scene OK...Further in, he asked me to stop the movie.  He shared some

 thoughts, and then gave the go ahead to resume.  Not long after that, the

video started rolling....tracking problems...I tried to adjust the VCR, but

couldn't fix it. I will forever believe that it was Divine Intervention.

The next morning Marianne called me at work to tell me that Dad was

still in bed. It was after 9, and Dad always got up around 6. He

liked to get up and get going, even if gettin going only meant drinking

coffee and reading the paper.

When I got home after noon, I went upstairs and found him still in bed.

Sobbing.

The movie had brought it all back to him. He shared things that I'm not

sure if he had shared with anyone else. He had kept it all bottled up for

over 50 years...Things he couldn't "un-see", "un-hear" or "un-feel".

I told him how proud we all were of him. How thankful we were of his service.

And that I loved him.

And that was that. We never spoke of it again. And he never finished the movie.

He didn't need to. He had been through it.  At a time when "PTSD" and "TBI"

didn't "exist" , or was called "shell shock" or "battle fatigue"...

I believe that everyone who has survived combat returns home wounded.

Sometimes you just can't see the wounds.

To those Americans who stormed ashore that day and those who parachuted

behind enemy lines in the hours before the landings 70 years ago today....

To those Americans who have fought from Concord to Kandahar....

To say "Thank you" doesn't seem nearly enough.

I go back to "Saving Private Ryan" and Captain John Miller's

final whispered words... "Earn this..."

I hope that I live my life in such a manner.

I hope we all do...




Thursday, June 5, 2014

No sense waitin' til the last minute......

Part of the deal with being happily married is that you remind your mate about stuff.

So, this morning when Marianne seemed very frustrated about forgettin' something,

I offered my brain.

"Well, I can remember two of the things, but I can't remember the third one!!!"

"What are you trying to remember? Stuff we need at the grocery?

Things we need to do around the house? Things that I might do that would

make me appear somewhat useful???..."

"No! Things you can get me for Christmas!!!"

(Please insert approximately 7 seconds of stunned silence here)

"But, it's June 5th...", I replied with no meaningful effect.

"You can get me some Shalimar perfume, just because it used to be my

favorite.....And a pair of tickets to see "WICKED" at the DPAC, and......

Doggone it! I can't think of the third thing!!!"

If history tells us anything, it's that she WILL remember what Item #3 is.

And that I will forget the Shalimar...



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Done too soon..."

I felt the need to sweat today, and I picked the perfect day for it.

Late morning found me atop our trusty and rusty Craftsman ridin' mower.

18 horses, 6 speeds and an alleged 42" wide path of grass cuttin' goodness

with the temperature hovering near 90...

That was followed by getting behind a push mower for the trim work.

I do some good thinkin' on and behind those machines. At least, I think

it's good thinkin'...

As the sweat poured off of me, I heard in my mind's ear the Neil Diamond

song, "Done Too Soon"... Check out the lyrics...

                                                                  "Done Too Soon"

Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice
Wolfie Mozart and Humphrey Bogart
And Genghis Khan
And on to H. G. Wells

Ho Chi Minh, Gunga Din
Henry Luce and John Wilkes Booth
And Alexanders King and Graham Bell

Ramar Krishna, Mama Whistler
Patrice Lumumba and Russ Colombo
Karl and Chico Marx
Albert Camus,

E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau
Sholom Aleichem and Caryl Chessman
Alan Freed and Buster Keaton too

And each one there
Has one thing shared
They have sweated beneath the same sun
Looked up in wonder at the same moon
And wept when it was all done
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done


I thought of my ancestors...Those I knew and those that I know nothing

about...I thought of those famous and infamous in history.  All the way

back to Adam and Eve.  And the things we all have and had in common.

Today I sweated beneath the same sun.

Tonight I looked up in wonder at the same moon. 

And I suppose that one day I'll weep for it all being done too soon.

But, I ain't done yet...




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Diggin' the dirt....

On the way to meet friends for sushi this evening, Marianne informed me

that we had to stop by Home Depot, because we "needed" some things.

Most husbands learn pretty quickly that their wives' definition of  "needs"

differs substantially from their own, and they also learn pretty quickly

to "go along to get along"...

What we "needed" was........DIRT.

Three huge bags of "regular" dirt, and one bag of "fancy" dirt.

I think the "regular" dirt is to add to the yard, and the "fancy" dirt is for

potted plants.

I don't know the difference. Bet the plants don't know either.

So.....somewhere there's a guy who takes the dirt he digs from

holes in the ground, and sells it to other folks to put into holes in the ground.

I think Marianne even felt a bit iffy about the purchase, because once we

rolled up to the checkout counter, she said, "Why don't you go and load up

the car, and I'll pay for it..."  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh..............

Ignorance is bliss, and I'm a happy man.

Almost as happy as I get when we go to Kohl's and she proclaims,

"I saved more than I spent!!!..."






Monday, June 2, 2014

I remember when..........

Memory is a quirky thing....

As I have written about before, my oldest brother is now in the ever tightening grip

 of dementia, and we lost our Mom and my mother in law to the "long goodbye"...

But I'm now talkin' about the memory of a typical baby of the boom.

I've compared notes with others in the "Club", and there are some common themes.

Forgettin' why we walked into a room, or where we left our 7th pair of reading

glasses, or what we were just talkin' about...This stuff happens to all of us.

Have you ever tried to remember what shirt you were wearing, while you were

wearing it, and without peeking? Good luck with that.

But, we love to regale the young folks with tales of the old days.

And I'll bet that such recollections go back to the first generation gap.

"Grak!!!  When I was your age rocks hadn't even been invented yet!!!..."

I vividly remember paying 24.9 cents for a gallon of gas.

I watch their eyes as I tell them of paying $180 per month for a two bedroom

townhouse apartment, with an electric bill of maybe 15 bucks.

Mention a movie I saw in the 70's and I can tell you the name of the

girl I begged to go see it with me.

I can remember conversations and tones of voice.

Or when "I" was my Dad's TV remote control and he wanted me to

change the channel to one of the other two.

And the young folks roll their eyes.

Just like the future young will do when today's young relate how they "Used to pay

only $3.59 for a gallon of gas!!!"...

I wonder what the kids of the kids of the kids of the kids of today

will be rollin' their eyes about???...






Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Mamma Mia!" onstage and stuck in my head....

Marianne introduced me to musical theater, and I introduced her to........shooting.

She and I have enjoyed many visits to stage shows, including "Phantom Of The Opera",

"My Fair Lady", "Jersey Boys" and our favorite, "Les Miserables"...

Tonight we took in "Mamma Mia!" at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Great show that's been around since 1999.  We've seen it probably four times,

and it's just a blast.  The story is set on a Greek island and is based on hit songs

from the Swedish pop group, ABBA.  Brilliant concept as everybody already

knows the music. Heck, I played all of their songs on the radio...when they were

new...

I never could get myself to see the 2008 movie version however.  I'm used to

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and let's face it, there's just some things you

can't "un-see" or "un-hear"...His license to kill did not include with his voice...

So, for the next week or two, if you roll up next to me at a stop light, understand

that you may be hearing ABBA's "Waterloo", "S.O.S." or maybe "Honey Honey".

I might be wearin' a cap pulled down low, sunglasses and a fake beard, but

I'm sure to be singin' along.

I'm so grateful that Marianne dragged me to the theater so many years ago.

And I think she's glad that I taught her to shoot a pistol.

Now she wants me to teach her how to load a pistol.

I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid.