Friday, December 28, 2007

Year in Review

2007 was an interesting year for me.

I started 2007 in Florida and I am happy to be ending 2007 as a resident of Pennsylvania.

I found the coolest shoes on the planet. I have since retired them. Due to the ridicule of family and friends as well as some other bloggers I have gone back to plain old boring shoes.

I spent six months living with my parents. God Bless them for putting up with us.

Wyatt turned one.

Poop and Boogies was spotlighted by Time Magazine/CNN on-line with some other cool blogs (even though the writer said I was "clearly not a writer").

We bought a house. And we have been working on it non-stop.

Lauren and the kids and I have been truly blessed with the opportunity to move back to PA especially since we got to spend time with Ray before he passed away.

The year was filled with ups and downs but for the most part it was ups. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am the Luckiest.

Over the past year I have enjoyed reading the following blogs for various reasons. I know there are a ton of blogs out there that I read, mostly I lurk, and I am going to miss a few on my list.

Vitamin Sea and I loved this post.

Cat and TechnoGeekery

Klog

Bossy

Cactus

Bogart

Scarlett

A year here a year there

Nilbo

Steve

Creative-Type Dad

Oh The Joys

Susie

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that your 2008 is filled with more Ups than Downs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hard Wear *

Here is tidbit of information if you ever want to have fun while shopping. It happened to me by accident but I laughed for a good 10 minutes that I realized it would be easy to do on a regular basis.

This is what happened to me.

I went Christmas shopping for Lauren. One of the items on my list was bras; nothing sexy or Victoria’s Secret type of undergarment, but just everyday wear type of bra. I went to the Sears because I also had to get her a house ware type of gift. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone.

The day I went, Sears was having a bra sale. There were rows and rows and bins and bins of them. I found a few that I thought she would like and took them over to the register in the Lingerie Department. I never bothered to look at the tags; I knew they were on sale. There was a pretty big line and I thought to myself I still need to pick up the salad bowl that Lauren wanted so I will just checkout and pay in that department.

I took the escalator down to the House Ware department found the bowl I needed and went to pay for my items. No one was at the register so I walked over to the Hardware department to pay. I put the items on the counter and Hank, a burley man in his mid fifties working the register, scanned the bowl. He did not notice that I placed the two bras on the counter.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“No.” I said. “These too.” And I pointed to the undergarments.

The expression on Hank’s face was priceless. He picked up the pink bra between his thumb and forefinger and held it ever so delicately as if he did not want to get cooties. He found the tag and tried to scan it. It did not scan. He looked at the tag and then at the scanner. He tried again. It did not scan. He looked for a price but did not see one. He looked to me for help.

“They are on sale. Maybe that’s the problem.” I told him.

Hank’s face turned a slight pinkish color. He picked up the phone and made a call.

“This is Hank in Hardware. I need a department code for a bra.” He whispered.

The person on the other end of the phone must not of heard him because he repeated himself. Then he had to pick up the bra and look for the make and model and tell the person on the other end of the phone. He punched a few codes into the register and hung up. You could tell he was totally uneasy about handling the bra.

He grabbed the black bra that I wanted to purchase and scanned the tag. It did not scan. He rolled his eyes as his face turned red and he had to call the lingerie department again.

I cracked up. I laughed all the way to my car.

So if you ever wanted to have fun while shopping for unmentionables, go to Sears, make the tag un-scan-able and take it to the hardware department.



* yes, I know the title of this post is a total double entendre and I know that my brother Kevin would comment on it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eulogy for Ray

Lauren's father passed away last week on December 17th. His funeral was Friday December 21st.

I was honored to give the eulogy, which is what follows.

Whenever I needed to describe my father-in-law. I always used the word simple.

The word simple , when describing someone, always carries a bad connotation. Most people do not want to be considered simple. They want to be complicated. They want to be considered a person of depth and knowledge and of complex thoughts.

Ray was not complicated. Ray was simple. He was simple in his devotion to his wife and children. He was simple in his pleasures and joys. He was simple in his faith.

He led his life according to the simplest of rules. The Golden Rule. There are people in this world of great depth and complex thoughts who cannot, no matter how hard they try, understand the Golden Rule.

The Golden rule. Treat others, as you would want to be treated. Ray lived that way.

Simple to do? I don’t think so.

Ray only loved one woman in his entire life, they got married and had children. Simple.

Ray worked hard for most of his life, two or three jobs at a time, just to provide for his family. From what I could tell he never really wanted anything for himself. He found satisfaction in his work. But he worked to provide for his family. Simple. Even after his daughters were grown and able to provide for themselves he continued to support them in other ways. Changing oil on their cars, helping them with home projects or just offering moral support. Simple.

He found pleasure in spending time with his grandkids, fishing, building birdhouses, gardening and yard work.

This past summer, when he started his Chemo I offered to help and mow his yard. He refused. He enjoyed working on the yard and found satisfaction in doing the job. After a few weeks of me offering, he finally conceded.

He took the time to explain to me how his old rider mower worked. He tinkered with it for so many years that the mower had its own little quirks and he explained that he wanted me to be safe. He made sure I knew every nuance of the machine. He then got on the mower to show me how it worked. How it bucked in 2nd gear, how the blade mechanism could get stuck and how to maneuver around the obstacles in the yard. He showed me for so long that by the time he was done teaching me, he mowed the back yard himself.

He told me was concerned for my safety.

Who am I kidding I sure he was worried I would break the mower.


He found joy in just talking to people. Ray always greeted every one with his big toothy smile; his eyes would disappear into slits. You knew he was genuinely happy to see you. He never offered his opinion or advice unless asked. He was a quiet man but he enjoyed listening. He just enjoyed the conversation. Simple.

I consider myself lucky because I think that Lauren inherited that smile. She said to me the other day, “I can’t believe how much I look like my father.” I looked at her and I agreed. Which means one of two things. My wife would make a very handsome man, or that Ray would have made one really attractive woman.

He was simple in his faith in God. He believed. He never forced his beliefs on other people. He never got into huge philosophical debates about the meaning of life.

I remember one time after a spirited conversation about what church can offer, he said, “I don’t need to hear other peoples opinions on this, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and I just know I am in good hands.” Simple faith.

There were many times I heard Emily say that Ray could fall asleep anywhere. His response to her was always the same. “What can I say? I have a clean conscience.”

I truly believe that he did. He was just that good of a person. Simple.

Ray was the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would also tell you about where he bought it, when he bought it, what function he wore it to and that he would look for the receipt so that you could return it if you wanted to.

Ray did have some faults, which I want to cover.

He was Caring to a fault.
He was nice to a fault.
He was generous to a fault.
He was friendly to a fault.
…And he liked polka music.

I wish I had those faults. Except for the polka music.

Shame on me for pointing out his faults, because one of the most admirable qualities I see in Ray is the fact that he never, ever, pointed out anyone else’s faults. He lived his life by the Golden Rule. And I know that a lot of people sold Ray short and judged him for being Simple, but Ray Simply never judged anyone.

Anybody I have ever talked to about Ray always said the same thing,
“He was the nicest man in the world.”

It sucks that that space is now vacant.

Ray’s birthday is December 30th. In a little over a week he would have been 70. I like to think that his birthday has now changed to December 17th. The day he died. He is now celebrating a new life, in heaven.

In an effort to move to past the sadness of his death and the mourning that comes with losing him I want to be the first to say, and I can’t think of any other way to say it but to put it simply:

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

He's Sharp

Maxfield started to do the "I gotta go pee" dance.

"C'mon Max. Let's get you to the bathroom."

I tired to hurry him into the downstairs powder room but he resisted. He started to run in the other direction, towards the steps.

"Max, let's go!" I called. "You don't want to pee in your pants, do you?"

He finally rushed into the powder room and peed.

He looked around the room.

"Dad?" He asked. "Is this the bathroom?"

"Yeah buddy."

"No it's not. There is no bath in here. The bathroom is upstairs because that has a bathtub."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Entertainer

video

Monday, December 17, 2007

Long Day

I sat down on the couch at the end of a very long day. I kicked off my shoes and groaned as I lifted my legs to take off my socks. There was a hint of a bad odor in the air.

I lifted the pair of socks to my nose and inhaled.

"Phewww."I said as I turned away from the smell.

Lauren, who was sitting across the room from me, looks at me and says, "Why Bill? Why? Why do you put yourself through that? Do you really think that, one time, they are'nt going to stink?"

She had a good point.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nit Wit

A local radio host was holding a book signing at the Barnes and Noble on Wednesday night. I am a fan of his show and I know some people that are fans of his show so I went to the signing to get some gifts.

The store was mobbed, not only with people wanting to meet the radio show host but also with the normal Christmas shoppers. I bought a couple copies of the book and registered with the signing people. They handed me a green colored card marked “B” and told me they would be calling out people in the specific groups. I was Green B. After some conversation I realized I would be in the second group of 100 people to get the book signed.

I walked around the store a bit and then found my way towards the end of the line. The Green B people already were forming a line although they were not announced over the loudspeaker. There was about 30 or so people in the Green B line. The store was hot, and I could tell that the people waiting were getting antsy. I mulled around the front of the line when a woman at the front of the line turned towards me and sneered.

“THIS is the FRONT of the line.” She pointed a bony finger towards the end of the line and said. “The end of the line is down there.”

I guess she thought I was trying to cut in.

I laughed at her attitude and I said. “I bet I could convince at least 12 people at that end that they are the FRONT of the line. Then where would you be?”

I smiled and walked toward the end of Green B Line. More people gathered and the line snaked in and out of the various sections and shelves of books. The longer we stood in the line the more aggravated the people around me became. I started joking with the people in front of me and behind me. I refused to be aggravated. The more I joked the more people started to listen to me.

An angry man approached the line and started to argue with a Barnes and Noble employee about how long he was going to have to wait to get his book signed. He scowled and walked towards where I was standing.

“Is this the line?” He growled at us as he threw his arms up in disbelief.

I looked around at the signs marking the section of books we were standing in front of and said in my most sincere said, “No Sir. We are all just interested in Philosophy, Gay and Lesbian Studies and Astrology.”

The people around me cracked up. I now had an audience and that is one of the worst things someone like me could have. I continued to joke about various things and our section of the line started chatting back and forth.

The line started moving and we snaked in an out of different rows of books. We were standing in front of True Crime section when a customer, who was not there for the signing, walked up and he asked to look at the books behind us. He was clearly agitated at the fact that his shopping was interrupted by the mass of people there. He kind of shoved his way past me.

Again, I refused to get annoyed and I asked him, “ Are you looking for your biography?”

The man in front of me in line spit out his coffee. The two ladies behind me cackled. The man looking for the book chuckled and he left. The guy who spit out his coffee turned to me and said, “How do you do it? You actually SAY what I was thinking.”

I explained how sometimes I do not have a filter from my brain to my mouth. I started to get cocky and started to tell my “audience” what I was going to say to the radio host when I met him. I had a funny story to tell him and I knew I would wow him and he would have to mention me on the radio. All the people laughed and told me I should tell the host. I was in a great mood and I was on fire with my quick wit.

I was about 5 people away from the host, and I was joking with the staff of the radio show and the Barnes and Noble employees. I felt great. I was on fire. The people in front of me got their books signed and waited around to see the host’s reaction to my story and my humor.

I handed him my book and I ….

And I….

And I….

And I…

Froze.

I mumbled something about how I liked his show, shook his hand and I left.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shopping and learning

Maxfield is pretty interested in letters. He asks, all the time, what words spell. He also likes to state each letter in the various signs and packaging he comes across throughout the day.

Last night I took Maxfield out so we could Christmas shop for Lauren. As we approached the store he said, "O.T. A. R.G.E.T. What's that spell dad?"

"That spells Otarget. But that is not an O. That is a symbol."

"A cymbal?"

"Yeah."

"What's a cymbal? Like a drum?"

"Uh. no. A symbol is like a sign. And yes a cymbal is like part of drums."

I do my best to teach my kid as the situations present themselves. But it was cold and I could not figure out what the best way to describe what a symbol is or means. And I have tried to discuss Homonyms with him in the past and he and I both got confused. It was like the time I tried to explain what the word "opposite" means. Seriously, try explaining the word "opposite" without using the word "opposite". It is tough.

So the opportunity to educate Max ended there.

We entered the store and walked towards the women's clothing department.

"W.O.M.E.N.S." Max said reading the sign hanging from the ceiling. "What's that spell?"

"Women's."

"Womens?" He questioned.

"It's like girls. The sign means that the clothes in this section are for girls."

"Mommy is a girl." He said knowing why we were at the store.

I explained to Max, on the way, that he got to pick out the clothes for mommy. I knew what style of outfit to look for, but Max was going to pick the actual color. I figure if the gift is from him, he should pick it out. Plus, if Lauren does not like it, I can always blame the kid.

I pointed to clothing rack and said, "Okay Max. Pick one for mommy."

He took his job very seriously. He studied the various colors. He walked around the circular rack. Then he noticed the letters on the hangers.

"Hey Dad." he said. "That has an M on it. M is for Max."

"That's right."

"This one has and L on it. Ooh dad. This one has an X and an L on it. X is in Max."

"Okay. Well lets pick one Maxfield. Pick a color that you think mommy will like." I said trying to redirect his focus on the task.

"Okay." Max said. "Let's get this one with lot's of X's on it. X.X.L."

"No Max. Let's stick to the M's."

"But I want to get the one with lots of Xs."

It was time for another lesson. And I thought discussing Homonyms was tough.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Channeling My Holiday Michael Scott

I have written here before about my love of the show The Office. It is still my favorite show(although 30 Rock is creeping into the top spot) and the episode, which aired a few weeks ago, called "The Deposition" is already a classic as far as I am concerned.

The main character, Michael Scott, is known for saying the phrase "That's what she said." anytime that someone says something that could be used as a double entendre.

I have started a seasonal part time job selling Christmas trees on the weekends. I help the customers with their trees, picking them out, cutting branches, giving the trunk a fresh cut and then tying the tree to the roof of their cars. When dealing with the customers I have bite my tongue with all the double entendres that comes with Christmas trees. I find myself having to walk away just so I can mumble to myself "That's what she said." I can't help it. It is a sickness from watching The Office.

The following are parts of conversations I have been involved in or overheard this weekend. And, of course, all should have been followed up with ..."That's what she said."

"I like 'em big and bushy."

"I like them tall and erect."

"I'm not sure if that will work. I got soooo many balls."

"Can you tap that in the bottom."

"I like a nice tight bottom."

"I want the biggest one you got, that will fit in the back."

"If this will last for three weeks, I will be thrilled."

"I just hope I can get it up in the house."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wyatt's First Snow

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Going Out

Friday night I went out. Like I do most Friday Nights. It is time I get for myself. No Lauren. No kids. Just me. I go out after the kids go to bed. Makes it easier for Lauren and I can stay out as late as I want and they are none the wiser.

I go to the usual haunt. I like it there.

This past Friday was just like the all the rest.

I pulled into the parking lot and recognized a few familiar cars. I turned off the engine and took and a deep breath. I have to switch modes if I am going to enjoy myself. The neon sign from the front of the building gave the interior of my car an eerie glow. I checked my wallet for my cards and I opened the car door. The chill from the cold winter air shot down my neck as I ran towards the entrance. I knew I would find warmth inside.

I walked in the front door and took note of the specials. I nodded to the guy in the staff shirt and I was not sure if he recognized me or not.

The lights inside were bright. That is one of the reasons I like this joint. I can see everyone in the place. The music was playing softly and although I liked what they were playing last week better, what was coming through the speakers was still not bad. It was just enough to keep my spirits high for a Friday night out.

As I made my way towards the back I noticed a couple of regulars. There was Jane and her husband annoying the guy behind the counter. Frank was back and to the left, indecisive about what he was going to get. There were a couple of other folks that seemed to nod in my direction as if they knew me. I like this place because most people that go here are my age or older. I fit in better.

I made my rounds enjoying every moment of the “freedom” I had for the night.

After an hour or two I knew it was time to go home. I walked up to Elise, who works most Friday nights to pay my tab. She looks like she has been there for years. She is older and is the type of person who has attitude, and although management frowns upon that type of behavior, most of the customers seem to enjoy her, so they let it slide.

I stand there somewhat dumbfounded as she tells me the total. I was not really paying attention because I am people watching the other patrons around me.

Elise says something else to me.

“What?” I ask.

“Do you have any coupons?” She repeats.

“Oh.” I snap back to reality from my daydreaming. “Yes. And here is my Super Card.”

I load the car with my groceries and head back home happy with my Friday night out and my savings from shopping at Giant Food Stores.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hidden Camera

video

Santa's work day pretty much started like every other work day this time of year. He entered the Willow Grove Mall through the Bloomingdale's second floor entrance and walked down towards the center of the mall. He passed the book store, the sports collectible store and waved to a few children as he headed towards the elevator. One of the kids waving back was Maxfield. Max was excited.

Santa descended the elevator and made his way to the oversized chair under the 30 foot Christmas Tree. The first few visitors to sit on his lap were all well behaved. They were quiet and shy and they were polite. Then my children took their turn.

Around 10:20 am on Saturday 12/1/07 Santa's day started to go downhill.

I am pretty sure Max kicked him in the nuts.

There was sign posted that read "please do not use you own photography equipment". So I used a hidden camera to record the video.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mr. Jones and Me

Mr. Jones is my next-door neighbor. He is probably in his late fifties and he is good natured and an all around nice guy. I have talked to him numerous times and him and I seem to have clicked. He is a good neighbor to have next door.

His garage is converted into a wood shop and he has all kinds of cool tools and gadgets. He keeps himself busy building garden railways, tracks, and trestles out of wood. Last week I needed some precision cuts on a piece wood and I asked him if I could use his table saw.

“No problem.” He said and he offered to do the cuts for me.

As he was lining up his saw and adjusting the height levers we started talking about all of his tools. He was telling me what saw does what and the finer points of changing the thickness of the blade to make more accurate cuts. He talked about a few other tools as well and then he stopped in mid sentence and he said, “But the most important thing a man needs in his garage, above all else, is a good vice.”

And me, being me, could not help myself. I tried. I really did. But I could not stop myself. And I said, “You’re not talking about hookers or drugs are you Mr. Jones?”

He stopped fiddling with the saw and turned towards me with a puzzled look. There was an awkward pause. He pointed over to his workbench at the table vice. Then something in his head clicked and a big smile crept across his face. He shook his head and chuckled.

“I just got that. You’re funny.” He said.

I like Mr. Jones.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Religous Moment

Maxfield has been learning about Christmas in his pre-school. Yesterday, at dinner, he talked about how his teacher read him the story of baby Jesus.

Last year for Christmas, Max’s Godfather, Mr. Miyagi, gave him a PlayMobil Nativity set. I figured I would continue Max’s education and dig out the playset and set it all up.

The cardboard manger background and all the little pieces gave me some serious trouble.

I must have said “Jesus Christ” and “Damn it” under my breath at least a dozen times.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving story.

I may have told this story before, here on Poop and Boogies, and if so, my apologies. But I laugh every time I think about it.


My mom hosts, on average, about 35 people a year for Thanksgiving. Nine kids, plus spouses, plus 22 or so grandkids, it is a lot of people. Each family brings a dish of some sort but my mom does the cooking of the turkey and the stuffing.

A few years back she started to cook more than one bird for the dinner. Since the larger turkey took up all the space in her main oven she bought a medium sized rotisserie oven to cook a smaller second turkey.

A couple of years ago, or maybe it was last year, the rotisserie oven broke. My mom was given it a test run a couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving to make sure it was ready. Well, she found out that the mechanism that turned the fowl or maybe it was the fetzer valve or the by-pass line, I am not sure, was not working properly. She asked my dad to take a look at it to see if he could fix it. Otherwise she would not have to buy a new one and she did not want to spend the money. She left the oven on a table in the laundry room/back office so my dad could tinker with it.

My dad travels a bit a with his job but he goes in and out of his office almost everyday. Every night for three weeks my mom would ask my dad if he fixed the rotisserie. Every night my dad would say he did not get around to it. My mom explained that rotisseries were expensive and if she had to, she would get a new one. My dad would counter with the fact that he would fix it. The rotisserie just sat on the table.

The Tueday before Thanksgiving my dad came home early from working and saw the rotisserie sitting on the table. With only 48 hours left until Thanksgiving he grabbed a screw driver and decided to take the oven apart.

Later that evening, when my mom and dad were talking he told her that he disassembled the oven but could not see anything wrong with it. He also told her that the he was having a hard time putting the pieces back together.

My mom freaked out.

Here, she went out the day before and bought a new rotisserie oven and threw the old one away. My dad took apart a brand new oven.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Call Me Bob

I have written in the past how I sometimes play around with my signature on the electronic signature pads in various stores. See the full post here.

Yesterday I went to Lowes (which has become a daily trip with all the projects we are doing) to return some "L" brackets I bought. The guy behind the return counter took my receipt and processed my return. He handed me back my reciept and said "Thanks Bob."

I don't think he was trying to be funny. I think he thought that Bob was really my name.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Parade

I am not a big fan of small town parades. They never really have done anything for me. You have your local cub scout and boy scout troops marching, followed by the local fire engines, followed by the area high school marching bands, followed by more fire engines, followed by local politicians in convertibles, followed by a float or two. If you have seen one, you have seen them all. When I was growing up, I am sure I attended at least 30 or so, small town parades between the Glenside July 4th Parade and the Hatboro Thanksgiving Parade. Out of those 30 I only have three distinct memories.

Memory 1. 1976 July 4th parade. I walked the whole parade route with my Godmother, Aunt Michele, as she tried to explain to me the significance of the Liberty Bell. A few weeks later she took me to Independence Hall to see the Liberty Bell.

Memory 2. Sometime in the late 70’s I watched my brother Pat shake hands with Don Tollefson. Don was (and still is) a local Sportscaster in the Philadelphia area. He was famous because he was on TV. He skipped right over me and shook my brother’s hand. I still can’t watch Don because of this.

Memory 3. “The Fat Lady and the Skinny Man” incident of the late 70’s. The story is complicated but this has affected my parade appreciation for a long time.

See? Only three out of 30. Parades are not the big of a deal.

Yesterday I took Maxfield to the Hatboro Thanksgiving Parade. Wyatt was napping and Lauren stayed home to work on the kitchen. It was cold, windy and raining. I thought Max would last a half hour. I thought wrong.

A local cub-scout troop led the parade. The kids in the procession had bags filled with lollipops. They were handing the candy out to the children lining the streets. Max took one and thought it was the greatest thing in the world. The next group to come by was a local church group of some kind. They were giving candy canes to the kids. Of course, Maxfield took one. Every other group in the parade handed out candy of some sort. I don’t remember ever getting candy at a parade. It was like a buffet line of candy, only the buffet “table” moved and not us. We stood there as people handed candy to Max. There was no way Max was leaving the parade early. He expected every group to hand out candy.

There were participants in the parade that were also handing out flyers and pamphlets for their causes(The last time I was handed this many flyers was when I was in Vegas, but the ones in Vegas were much more interesting). A group of people, walking with their Greyhounds, were handing out candy canes with information about saving racing dogs. I tried to explain to the lady I did not feel right about taking their candy because I have been to a few dog tracks in my life. She then handed the flyer and candy to Max. I tried to explain that Max, too, had been to some dog tracks as well. She started to give me her spiel about the mistreatment of animals but then a fire truck behind her blew it’s horn and she raced ahead so not to hold up the line.

I laughed as one local councilperson drove in a convertible that had car dealer paint on the windshield that read, “Buy Now for $1,999.” I thought that was appropriate.

About an hour into it, Max started to get cold. I taught him how to keep his limbs moving to help keep warm. We waved with both hands at the trucks and cheerleaders and dance squads and we stomped our feet to fight off the chill. We both looked silly and we laughed at ourselves over and over again. We sipped hot chocolate and ate soft pretzels we bought from a vendor.

The last float of the Hatboro Thanksgiving Parade, as is the tradition, is Santa. I didn’t really see Santa. I was too busy watching Maxfield’s beaming smile and his eyes light up as he waved to Santa and as Santa waved back to him.

I now have a fourth distinct memory of a parade and I hope to make many more.

I am, now, a fan of small town parades.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Begats Round two.

I may be missing in action for a bit. There is some "Begatting" going on.

Look at the following pictures. Tell me, at what point do you think, that I thought, I was in over my head?

Our Kitchen (note the old looking floor)
Lauren has been working on the new floor.
Begats a remodel. Plumbing and stove top removed.
Umm...This was....uuhhh..
Then...I ...removed the....the...uhhmm....
Then...all the...ummm..... floor cabinets. They....uhhh.. they fell.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Getting Old.

The girl at the checkout counter kept looking over my right shoulder as she scanned my items at the Comp USA store. When I looked at her she quickly turned her eyes back to the register. She did this a few times. Not looking at me but not really looking past me either.

The last time her eyes drifted to my right shoulder I made a big display of looking at her and then looking over my shoulder. She blushed, knowing she was caught.

She gave me a nervous laugh and said "I'm sorry sir. You just have a fuzzy on your ear."

"Oh." I said as I reached up to grab it away. "It must be from this sweatshirt. Thanks."

I brushed my hand against my ear. I pulled my hand away but there was nothing there.

"It's still there.", she said.

I reached up and grabbed the top of my ear. Using my thumb and forefinger I gently pinched the edge of my ear and I slid my hand down towards my earlobe. I felt the fuzzy in my grasp and I pulled it away from my ear. As I pulled I could feel the skin on my ear get tight. I stopped pulling.

"You didn't get it." She said.

My face became beet red. I reached up again and pulled at the fuzzy. As I pulled my hand away I could feel my entire ear being pulled from the side of my head. The checkout girl's face contorted and she grimmaced as if she just bit into something really sour.

I was even more embarrassed. What she thought was fuzzy was actually a really long, really grey piece of ear hair. Still attached to my ear.

I did not know what to say. She did not know what to say. We were silent for the rest of the transaction.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blazing

Lauren got her hair cut last week. It is a big change for her. I only have two words to describe her and her new hair: Blazing Hot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Banking

Lauren controls the finances in our house. And let me just say I would not have it any other way. If it were not for Lauren I would be “friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless and unemployed in Greenland.”

She taught me how to save money and be responsible with money. She didn’t really teach me, I knew how, I just chose not to. If it weren’t for Lauren being so good with money, I would most likely be homeless but I would have the best comic book collection in the world.

During our engagement was when I first realized how well Lauren could manage money. I don’t mean stock market and investments but more of the day-to-day paying bills and saving that was required for our future together. She would actually pay bills on time (who would have thought of that?) and budget, and put money into a savings account each week.

After we were married and we joined our bank accounts I was amazed that she would actually balance the checkbook. I was also shocked that if I took money out of the ATM she knew about it. She convinced me that using plastic was better for purchases because if I had the cash in my pocket I would piss it away on silly things. It was better that the money stayed in the account. It took me a while to get used to it. When we planned to buy our first house I was impressed by her skill because she managed to raise my credit score by 50 some odd points in a matter of months.

Her banking slowly became an addiction. Shortly after Maxfield was born, she asked me to run to the store for formula and diapers. I was gone for 30 minutes. When I walked in the door she called to me from upstairs.

“What else did you buy?” She asked

“Nothing.” I lied.

“Well you spent $40.57. Diapers and formula only would cost about 35.”

“How do you know how much I spent?” I asked.

“It’s on-line banking.”

“Do you mean to tell me that it only took 30 minutes for the charge to go through?”

“No. It only took about 15 minutes. I knew before you left the store’s parking lot. So what else did you buy?”

“Ice Cream.”

When I told my brother, the LawnWhisperer, about the ice cream incident he understood completely. He calls his wife, Vicki, The Auditor.

“My wife knows all of our bank account numbers and credit cards numbers by heart. Including the expiration dates and security codes. I barely know what my social security number is but the Auditor knows hers, mine, the kids. She knows I am going to the ATM before I even know that I am going to the ATM.” He told me.

Last week, Lauren and I were discussing some bank transactions. She knew them off the top of her head. I joked with her and called her the Auditor.

“No.” She said. “That’s Vicki. I am the Bank Whisperer.”

Who handles the finances in your house?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Phone Home

I called Lauren from work. I dialed our new home number from my desk phone.

“Hello.” Lauren answered.

It did not sound like her, but she is getting a cold.

“Lauren?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said in a way that was unfamiliar to me.

“It’s me.”

“Me who?” She responded.

“It’s…” I paused. “…me?”

“Who?”

I grabbed my cell phone and flipped through the address book to look up my own phone number.

“Is this Lauren?” I asked thinking Lauren was playing a joke.

“Yes.”

I looked at the number on the cell phone and the number that appeared on my desk phone’s display. The cell phone read 555-555-4655. The display on my desk read 555-555-6455. I flipped two numbers.

“Who is this?” Lauren asked.

“This is ummm..” I was now questioning who I was. “This is, who I thought, was your husband.”

“Oh.”

“I am sorry I dialed the wrong number and I am just shocked that a Lauren answered the phone.”

"Well not only do you have the wrong number but you have the wrong Lauren."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Winning the neighbors over one door at a time

“Trick or Treat?” Maxfield said as the lady opened the door.

“Well don’t you look cute.” The lady said as she handed him some candy.

The lady was in her mid to late-something's.

“Hi.” I said. “I’m Bill. I just moved in four houses down. This is Max.”

“Oh, new neighbors, how nice.” She stepped out onto the porch and I shook her hand.

“Yes we live in the house with the blue shutters.”

“Okay. Next to the Jones’?”

“Yes.”

“Welcome to the neighborhood.” She rested the candy bowl against her hip and appeared to settle-in for a conversation. “I was wondering who moved in. You should really like it here. It is a great location. Where are you from?”

Just then the woman’s dogs came to door and I could see them through the glass door. I recognized the dogs from numerous walks through the neighborhood.

“I grew up in this area, but we moved out of town and now we moved back.”

“Oh where did you live before?” She asked as one of the dogs started barking. “Casey, quiet down.” She scolded the dog.

“I recognize your dogs. I met them last week while your husband was out walking them.”

She was silent for a moment.

“Uh….That was my Father.” She said quietly.

“Oh.”

“Goodnight.” She said.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

Max is a dinosaur (and please do not let him hear you call him a monster) and Wyatt is a monster (he does not care what you call him as long as there is candy and food involved).
Lauren made the costumes (see Wyatt's shadow?) and she made Max's first.
I secretly hoped that Wyatt's costume would look like Rodan, Mothra or Gamera the flying turtle, but that didn't happen.
They both looked awesome.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Costume

Lauren and I talked about dressing up for Halloween this year; maybe in matching costumes.

So, Lauren, my wife, will be the sexiest woman alive. Costume by God.

and I ......















...does anyone know where I can get a Tim MCGraw costume?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Roof

We have a screened-in porch off the back of our house. The porch is old and in need of major repair but it works for the time being. This weekend I had to clean out the gutters on the porch.

As I climbed the ladder Lauren called out to me.

"Bill? Do you think the roof will hold you?"

"Yes. Wait a minute. Is that a "fat" joke or "weak roof" joke?"

She thought for a second. "Both."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Twenty-ish Questions

Maxfield has picked up on the game Twenty Questions from my friend's, Bob and Kris, kids. Lauren told me he learned the game two weeks ago but last night was the first time I got to witness his version of the game. I don't know which is more humorous, when Maxfiled is the Asker or the Askee.

Max as the Akser gets to ask questions and tries to guess the answer.

Lauren: I'm thinking of something...
Max: Does it fly, live on the land or in the water?
Lauren: It lives in the water.
Max: Is it a seal?
Lauren:No.
Max: Is it a Penguin?
Lauren:No, but the name of the animal I am thinking of, it's name also sounds like an animal that lives on the land.
Bill: Ask her if it has whiskers.
Max: Does it have whiskers?
Lauren: No.
Max: Is it an Elephant swimming?
Lauren: No.
Max: Is it a seal?
Lauren: No
Max: Does it have big ears?
Lauren: No but it has a long curly tail.
Max: Is it a seal?

It goes on for more than twenty questions and Lauren leads him to the answer.

When Max is the Askee.

Max: I'm thinking of an animal.
Lauren: Does it live on the land or in the sea?
Max: It lives on the land and it can fly in the sky and it has lots of colors and it is a parrot.
Lauren: Is it a parrot?
Max: You win.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This Guy

The week after we moved into our home, I had all types of workers at my house. We had plumbers come out to give us quotes on some projects. An electrician came out to upgrade the service. The Verizon guy was out to install the phone, internet and TV. We had a tree service company cut down a white birch that was infested with carpenter ants. We also had the exterminator stop by to spray and kill any remaining ants.

I did my best to schedule all of these guys on the same day. Much to my surprise they all showed up on the same day. The problem with having all these workers at the house at the same time is that they all like to chat with each other about the "last house I did." And they all try to outdo each other. So, I spent most of my day trying to get the workers to work.

The other problem I ran into was, that, as I would interupt their conversations trying to direct them to stay focused, each and every one of them, I guess from networking, "have this guy" that can do any job I may need to get done.

"Hey Bill, if you are going to get the house painted I have this guy that can do it for you." The electrician tells me.

"Bill I have this guy that can do the cabinets and countertops. I will tell him to stop by and give you a quote." Says a plumber

"You want these bushes removed let me know because I have this guy that can do it real cheap." Explains the exterminator.

They were all just being helpful and nice but by the end of the day it got a bit trying.

Around 4:30, just as most of the workers were finishing up, someone knocked on my door. I looked out the window and saw a heating and air condition truck at the curb. I was tired and I did not feel like dealing with one the guys from "I have this guy". I gritted my teeth and tried my best to look frustrated as I opened the door.

"Can I help you?" I said in my most dickish voice.

The man handed me his business card. "Hi." he said. "I'm Nelson. I own that Heating and Air company." He pointed towards the truck.

I thought this dude is going to try and sell me a service plan and I was not in the mood. "What do you want?" I asked.

"Are you the new owner of the house?" He asked.

"Yeah." Again I was trying to be a jerk.

"Well, congratulations."

I was thinking that he was trying to soften me up so I would allow him to give me the sales pitch.

I started to go back inside as I said, "Look I am not interested in any type of ..."

Nelson cut me off. "I just wanted to say welcome to the neighborhood. I live two houses up the street. If you need anything give me a call."

A few seconds passed and then it registered in my brain. He was not here to sell me something he was just being a nice neighbor and I was being a dick.

I tried talking about kids and the other neighbors but I think I overcompensated for my previous nastiness and I was overly nice. I shook his hand vigorously and thanked him like a hundred times for stopping by.

I think that maybe Nelson thinks that I may be a little nuts.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and I feel so bad about how I treated Nelson and I don't know how to make it up to him. The only thing that I can think of is by sending business his way. So if you live near me, and you need some HVAC work done, I have this guy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Great Pumpkin

Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch. It was a perfect day and eveyone had a great time. There was no screaming or crying or carrying-on; I was on my best behavior.




It is days like this that I feel like I am one of the luckiest people alive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Record

Twelve days ago I bought Lauren a bag of M&M's. They are still in our fridge. The new record is not that Lauren has not eaten them yet.

The record is that I haven't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Making Some Bucks

Part of the agreement of sale, when we purchased our house, was that the previous owners could leave anything in the house and we would assume possession of those items at settlement. The previous owner was a 90-year lady who was going into assisted living. Her sons were quite happy about not having to move any of her furniture.

They left us a ton of stuff. Some of the items were nice or interesting and Lauren and I decided to keep them. We kept the dining room table and chairs, the electronic organ that Maxfield and Wyatt love playing, a few end tables and we kept some lamps and other odds and ends. We had to get rid of the rest of the stuff. So on top of moving, painting, unpacking and re-doing the bathroom we also had to hold a yard sale.

This past Saturday we had the sale. We were quite happy to unload a bunch of items and make a few bucks at the same time. It was also a great way to meet the neighbors. I was on my best behavior and I kept in mind the list of things that I was not allowed to say in public (according to Lauren). What we did not sell, we donated to local thrift stores.

Yesterday Lauren went to the local Italian Market to pick up some items for dinner. The female clerk told her that it would be 20 some odd dollars.

Lauren pulled out a wad of one-dollar bills from her purse that we earned from the yard sale and said, “I hope you don’t mind all ones.”

The man in line behind Lauren gave her a look, as did the clerk.

The clerk said, “I don’t mind the singles and I am not going to ask.”

Lauren looked at the clerk and then the guy in line and said, “No, I am not a stripper if that is what you are thinking.”

Monday, October 15, 2007

Clean

Our bathroom is in such disarray. There are hammers and screwdrivers on the sink next to the toothbrushes. There is spackle and tile adhesive on the floor next to the toilet and plunger. The medicine cabinet houses a razor scraper and a utility knife as well as make-up and other toiletries.

The newly renovated tub is not quite ready for us to use as a shower, but taking a bath is okay. The only problem is getting the bathroom ready in order to take a bath is such a chore. I have to remove the chemicals and cleaning supplies used to prep the certain surfaces. I have to sweep the tub of all the dust. Remove certain tools that could cause harm to certain body parts. By the time I get the room ready for a bath, I need a shower just from the work.

Last week I organized the bathroom for my bath. I settled into the hot water and realized there was no soap in the tub. I scanned the floor and saw a bottle of dish detergent we used to clean tools. I did not feel like getting out of the tub.

Let me just say that I smelled Lemony fresh all day and the little flecks of food that were on my chin…Gone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Face

The other day, while Lauren was tiling the bathroom, I took Max and Wyatt to the playground down the street.

There, I met Mike and Denise and their two kids. During our chit-chat they mentioned they recently moved to our neighborhood. I told them that our family was new the development and we started talking about home repair and renovations.

Denise mentioned that they gutted their bathroom.

"That's funny. " I said. "We just did the same thing. As a matter of fact I brought the kids down here so they would be out of my wife's hair while she installs the tile."

"Your wife is laying tile?" Mike asked.

"Yes." I replied.

Mike looked at his wife. "Did you hear that? His WIFE is laying the tile." He said smiling as if to point out that maybe it would be cool if she learned how to lay tile.

"So." Denise said. "She is laying tile." And she gave Mike That Face that only a woman can give her husband.

That Face that is a half squint and fake smile, where the head slightly nods up and down and side to side at the same time. That Face that can that say so many things at the same time. Things like "Shut up idiot" (where the emphasis is on the UP part), or "I can't believe you said that." or "I am going to kill you when we get home." or "I can't believe I married him." or it is a simple as "Please be quiet." And That Face is usually difficult for the receiver interpret.

Mike did not pick up on the subtle/obvious hints from That Face.

“Wow. That’s impressive that your wife is laying tile.” Mike said.

Denise sighed and said “Yes Mike. I get it. His wife is laying tile.”

They weren’t bickering. He was trying to be funny. She wanted nothing of his humor.

I tried to defuse the situation and I have recorded here, before, how sometimes I have no filter between my brain and my mouth and I said, “Well at least my wife is laying something in our house.”

Denise looked at me as if to say Did I just hear what I thought I heard?

Mike said nothing.

I laughed nervously and gave Max the five more minute warning. “Sorry.” I mumbled. “Bad Joke.”

Two Minutes later, Mike started cracking up. “ I just got that.” He said.

I then tried to explain to them my filter problem. Denise stopped me in mid sentence, “Don’t’ worry about it. He is the same way.” She said and pointed at her husband.

He then told me a few stories about his filter problem. We all laughed and it was good.

When I got home, I told Lauren about the exchange.

She gave me That Face.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Begats

My dad always calls home projects "Begats". It is in reference to a part of the bible which covers the genealogical ancestry of Jesus. It goes something like "Abraham begat Isaac; And Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat so-and-so" and it continues for 30 or so people. That is how most home projects turn out.

A simple improvement or job around the house turns into something a lot more complicated and ends up "Begatting" other jobs.

The bathroom in our house had a small leak in the faucet area that needed to be replaced. I called in a plumber friend who looked at it and asked me to remove some of the tiles around the faucet area so he could replace the hardware. Plumbing "Begat" tile removal.



This picture is me starting the removal of the tiles. We could not find our safety goggles and Lauren insisted that I wear some type of eye protection. They only thing available were her sunglasses. I think I look like Elvis. TCB.

Lauren knew that we would not be able to replace the tiles with the same color which was a Brownish Mauve. So Removing a few tiles "Begat"...


..removing all the tiles in the entire shower/tub area. As evidenced in the above picture, I dinged up the drywall pretty good. You are supposed to replace new tile on a flat even surface. So removing all the tiles "Begat"...

...tearing out the drywall. Tearing out the drywall "Begat"...

...replacing it with new Cement Board. The new Cement Board "Begat"...
...the new tile that Lauren installed.

This "Begats" was three days of hard work. We could not shower or use the bath all this time which "Begat" us smelling pretty bad.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hello Neighbor

Our new neighbors across the street from us are a multigenerational household. Living there is the older couple, their daughter and their grandchildren. I have not met them yet but I have seen the older couple every morning sitting on their porch drinking coffee. They have been enjoying the unseasonable nice weather.

The same unseasonable nice weather has caused the bugs in the area to be a bit more active for this time of year. Active bugs bring active spiders. I hate spiders and I think one of the worst feelings in the world is walking face first into a spider web.

The other morning I walked out the front door and my face was immediately wrapped in the silky threads of a web that must have been built the night before. I started slapping my face and doing the “ohmygodgetitoffmegetitoffmegetitoffme” dance, flailing my arms and shivering and twitching.

15 seconds later I took a deep breath, satisfied that I removed the web and the potential spider. I looked up, and staring at me from across the street were my new neighbors.

I waved.

They were hesitant, but they waved back.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lucky?


The day we made settlement on our new house THIS greeted us at the front step. In some cultures the Praying Mantis is supposed to bring good luck. Both Lauren and I thought it was very cool that this Mantis was at the entrance to our new home. Lauren hates snakes and I hate spiders but we were both okay with this guy. Lauren took the pictures and then we shooed it away with an envelope.

It was a great start to our new home.

Then I read that the Praying Mantis eats it's mate.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Moved but not unpacked

Maxfield's Room --Before--
Maxfield's Room --In Progress--
Max working.
Maxfield's Room --After--


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moving

I am excited. Lauren and the boys are excited and I think my parent's are absolutely thrilled (they have been incredible and awesome putting up with my family the past 5 months) with the fact that Lauren and I bought a house. We make settlement on Friday (9-28).

With the new house comes paint and work and moving and unpacking and work and work. I will be MIA for a bit. I may try to post some before and after pictures throughout the week but that all depends on whether we actually can achieve any "after" type look we want to. I also told Maxfield that he can help me paint his room so there may be a bunch of before and after and after and after pictures of his room.

While I am away please visit these other blogs and tell them I sent you.

The first blog is one that my friend in real life, Dave, started. He was recently diganosed with cancer and he is using a blog to journal his treatments and thoughts and what not.

His blog is Heal Cole.

It is not depressing or sad or a downer type of cancer blog. It is a straight shot, up front account of his situation and the importance that family and friends play in the healing process. He only has a few posts, so read it from the beginning to get a sense of what it is about. I am a firm believer in "Laughter is the best medicine" so leave him a comment and make him laugh.

Here are some others to visit.

Childs Play X2

Flailing My Arms

Truths and Half Truths

Cheeky's Hideaway


She Looks Like Me


Sweet Juniper

Egel Nest

Bossy


I will be back in a about a week.

Flirting

I love hitting on my wife. I really do. Sometimes the flirting is a genuine, “I think you are beautiful.” Or something along those lines. But most of the times the pass or come on line is usually an immature verbal “boob-grab-honk-honk” type of compliment like “You are so hot.” Or “You are sexy.”

And like most guys, my flirting, and yes it is flirting, sometimes is just turning a normal conversation turned into something along the lines of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

Lauren’s cell phone is broken. It only works when it is in speakerphone mode. Meaning that anyone around Lauren can hear what is being said on the line. It took me a couple of conversations to remember that I am on speakerphone when talking to her.

She calls me.

“Hey Bill. I am at my mom’s and she is going to watch the kids while I run to the store to get dinner.”

“What are you going to get?”

“I need to pick up some spices for a recipe I am trying.”

“I got some spice for you.”

“Bill.”

“Yes.”

“You’re on speaker phone.”

That is how the conversations went. Now that I know her cell only works on speakerphone I use it my advantage.

“Hey Bill. I am at Jessica’s and I need you to do me a favor.”

“Am I on speaker phone?”

“Yes.”

“What kind of favor do you need? Bow Chicka bow wow.”

“Bill. Knock it off.”

I now use the phrase “Am I on speakerphone?” very much like Michael from the show The Office uses “That’s what she said.” It may be starting to get a little old with Lauren.

She called me the other day.

“Hey Bill. My Mom and I and the kids just left the park and we are going back to her house for dessert. Can you stop and pick up some Cool Whip?”

“Am I on speakerphone?”

“Goodbye.” –Click.

She didn’t even wait to see if I could pick some up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pre School


Maxfield started preschool this week. He is quite proud of the fact that he gets to go to school. Lauren and I are very happy that the school accepted him.

Last week Lauren brought Max to the school for an intereview. Lauren was interviewing them and they were interviewing Lauren. During the interview Max played in the corner. The teacher at the school asked all types of questions and wanted to make sure that Max was potty trained, had all his shots etc. etc. Lauren gave her Max's medical records and told the teacher that Max is potty trained but has the occasional accident. Everything looked good and Lauren signed him up for class.

When Lauren went to get Max so they could go home, with the teacher next to her, she realized that Max had pooped his pants. How did she notice this? The poop fell out of his pants and was sitting on the floor next to him.

They still accepted him. I guess the teacher thought it was like a student leaving an apple for her.



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brushing

It appears that my morning exercise and diet plan are not working as observed by my 3 year old.

The other day I was getting dressed in the bathroom when Maxfield and Wyatt came in to get their toothbrushes. I applied the paste to their brushes, handed them over to the kids and they disappeared into Max’s room. I started brushing my own teeth when I realized it was too quiet in the other room. I continued brushing my teeth as I walked down the hallway to Max’s room.

I was only wearing a pair of shorts and I was brushing my teeth vigorously as I entered the room. Max looked up at me, stared at my belly for a second, took his toothbrush out of his mouth and he motioned towards my stomach and chest and said, “Look Daddy. You are making that all wiggly.”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shopping with Mom

Yesterday I had the pleasure of food shopping with my mom. The last time I was at a super market with my mom I was probably twelve and I am sure my brother Lawnwhisperer was with me, and most likely we were sent to the car midway through the shopping trip with the instructions of "I have never been so embarrased in my life. I want you to sit in the car and DO NOT touch anything and I swear when we get home I am going to..."

Being that I never made it to the check out aisle in a grocery store with my mom present, she was never able to teach me a lesson about the cashiers that work the registers. Yesterday she taught me, what she considered, a life lesson.

As I squeezed the cart between the candy rack and the Magazine rack, where all the magazines talked about Britney and OJ and Angelina etc., my mom looked up to see that a guy, a boy, a young man really, was working the lane and she made a face.

"What?" I asked.

"You never pick a lane where a guy is working. They are slow. Women are much faster at the grocery store."

"What? That's not true."

"Bill, trust me. Men are so much slower with this type of stuff."

"Well that's sexist." I said.

We watched the guy working the scanner and register and he was barely bagging the groceries for the woman in front of us. For this particular incident, my mom had a point.

Whe we got home I told Lauren what my mom said about men working in the grocery store. My mom then said, "I have many years of experience, in the supermarket male workers are always slower than the females."


What do you think? In your experience are men or women slower at working the cash register?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Don't get me.

The phone rings at my parent's house, I can see from the caller ID that it is some type of telemarketer.

"Hello." I answer.

The guy on the other end says, "Yes. Hello. Is Barbara available?"

"I am sorry sir." I said. "But Barbara is married and has been for over forty years. So no she is not available and I do not think my dad would appreciate you calling here trying to hit on her like that."

Crickets on the other end.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Learning to Drive

I was only 16 years old for a few days when I went to get my learners permit. Once I had the little yellow card that legally allowed me behind the wheel of a car all I wanted to do was drive. There were no hours-in-training requirements to get a bonafide driver license. I only had to pass the official drivers test and I needed the practice. The restrictions on a permit were that I had to have a licensed driver over the age of 18 in the car with me while I learned behind the wheel.

Most of my siblings that were of the legal teaching age were either off to school or were too busy to teach me. My Godmother’s husband, Uncle Brian, took me out a few times but after I ran the stop sign at the bottom of Hoffman and Karen lanes I don’t think his heart could take it anymore.

The only other alternative to get some driving time was with my dad. The only problem with that was his car. I wanted to learn how to drive in a car that was close, in size and handling, to the type of car I would eventually use take my drivers test. My dad’s car was an old “cargo” van.

The old van was a beat up blue Ford with no windows on the side and no seats in the back. I think at one point it was used for a carpet business. The back of the van had a wooden bench bolted to the driver’s side wall, which is where we kids sat going to and from different places. Actually there was only one legitimate seat in the van and that was the driver’s seat. The front passenger seat was the spare tire. On top of that tire was a seat from a different van that was not mounted or fastened to anything. It was just placed on top of the tire so my mom had a place to sit. Whenever the van made a hard turn the seat would lean and slide in the opposite direction.

With no one to teach me I had to ask my father. I needed his approval to get my license anyway so maybe it would work out okay. He drove me out early on a Sunday morning, to the Jefferson Ward parking lot. On the way there, as I bounced back and forth on the passenger seat tire contraption, he explained that the parking lot would be empty and it would be a great place to drive We made a quick stop at the 7-11 to get a cup of coffee and a newspaper.

He pulled into the expansive empty lot and we got out of the van. He tossed me the keys and I jumped into the drivers seat and he climbed into the loose passenger seat. Before I could start the engine he talked about driving responsible and what not. He also wanted to go over some ground rules.

My dad pointed to some trees. “That is a stop sign.” He said. “That trash can is another stop sign. The speed limit on this side of the lot is 25 and on the other side is 35.”

I nodded.

“I want you follow all the painted lines. If you miss a stop sign you fail. If you go too fast or too slow you fail and we will come back again each week until you get it right.”

“Okay.” I said as I started the engine. “Ready?”

“Yes.” He said as he took off the lid of his coffee cup. “And one more thing. I want to be able to drink my coffee and read the paper. If I spill my coffee or I can’t focus on the paper because I am bouncing around, you fail and we will have to come back until you get it right.”

I looked at the passenger seat sitting on top of the tire and knew I would be coming back many more times. My dad is a very patient man. He took me back at least four times.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Caption this.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blanket

Recently, I started to make the beds in the morning. Making the bed is one of those pain in the ass chores that just does not make sense to me. I mean, why make it in the morning, you’re just going to sleep in it that night anyway right? Fix it right before you get into bed. Anyway, I am just trying to help Lauren out.

But I am somewhat confused by Maxfield’s blankets. His blanket has the image of Thomas the Tank Engine on it. I have noticed that when Lauren makes up his bed she places the cover so the image is viewable from the foot of the bed. It looks nice and presentable to anyone entering the room.

I, however, think that the blanket should be placed so that it is viewable from the head of the bead. Meaning that if Max is in bed, with his head on the pillow he can look down and see Thomas staring back up at him. The way Lauren fixes it, when Max looks down, Thomas is upside down.

The way I see it, Thomas is on the blanket for Max, so he should have the best angle.

How would you make it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gross

My sister Sharon was over the other day. She stepped outside onto my parent’s front step to catch a smoke. When she returned, she stood in the family room and chatted for a few moments. She turned towards the couch, lifting a blanket to make room for her to sit down when she let out a screech.

“Ahhh. Oh my god, Oh my God.” She yelled.

“What is it?” My mom asked.

“Get it off. Get it off.” Sharon said. She turned her leg towards me and begged. “Bill get it off me.”

I looked at her lower leg and slightly skeeved out. “In a minute.” I said. “I want to take a picture first.”

“What?” She screamed.

“I need a picture for the blog.”

I retrieved my camera from the other room. I took a few pictures. And then I removed the thing from her leg.

Apparently these things live out by my parent’s garden. It must have climbed onto my sisters shoe and up her leg while she was outside.




Monday, September 10, 2007

Sometimes God smiles upon me

Really, God must like me because the fine people over at Doritos now have two (count em TWO) different flavored chips in ONE bag. And they came out with this fine product right at the beginning of football season.

And since God knows that I am watching my Cholesterol, he made sure the nutrition label looks like this.


Do you see that? Zero Cholesterol.*

The only thing that God and the fine people at Doritos could do to beat this, would be to come out with Chocolate and Bacon flavored chips. **

*-Yes I know that there is some cockamamy formula that fat and saturated fat magically turn into Cholesterol, but I am not buying it.

**- What? I know you have thought of this flavor combination too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Author

I enjoy reading. My tastes vary and I read a little bit of everything but I usually stick to just a few authors. Waiting for one of these author’s new books sometimes puts me in spot of having nothing new to read. I may try a recommended book or author (for instance MRTL suggested Carl Hiaasen and now I have a new author on my list) and sometimes I discover a new author all on my own.

My latest discovery is Brad Meltzer. I discovered Meltzer because I found the cover of his last book, The Book of Fate, interesting. I Googled him and found his website. He is a best selling author of suspense/thriller books that are set in the world of government. Not politics, but government. I am fascinated by the way government works (or does not work) and I also saw that he was writing some comic books. While surfing his website I found that he also had a blog. I read few entries, and as bloggers do, I left a comment on one his posts. He sent me email in reply to my comment.

I figured, here is a guy who writes thriller/mystery/suspense books which revolve around various areas of government, writes comic books and has a blog AND he replied to a comment I made, I had to check out his work. I started with his book Zero Game and I loved it. I told my wife, Lauren, about the book and about his email to me, and how I wanted to buy the rest of his books. Lauren started teasing me claiming I had a Man-Crush on Brad Meltzer.

This summer I have read five out of six of his books. I also received another personal email from Brad regarding something or other from his blog. I loved the fact that a best selling author was so accessible.

His last book I read, The First Counsel, I bought at Barnes and Noble. I read it over the next two weeks and I was nearing the end of the book. I only had a few chapters left to go and I purposely set some time aside so I could finish. I sat outside on the front porch and started to finish the book. I was on the second to the last chapter and things were starting to come together when I turned the page (page 497 to be exact) and noticed that page 498 was blank. Page 499 was printed but page 500 was blank. There were about 10 pages total at the end of the book that were blank. I was pissed. I could not finish the book.

I took the spine creased, dog-eared, coffee-stained book back to the store and I asked for a replacement. The manager told me he could not take the book back in the condition that it was in. He needed a reason to replace the book. I showed him the blank pages. He still refused.

“Look,” I said “How was I supposed to know that the pages were blank when I bought it. The book is tattered because I was reading it the way it is supposed to be read, from the beginning to the end. If the pages in the beginning of the book were blank I would have returned it in better condition.”

The manager was still not sure if he could replace the book. I was frustrated and I said, “Fine. If you can’t replace it I will just email Brad Meltzer and ask him for the missing pages.”

The manager gave me a look. The look that he gave me as he rolled his eyes said You, Sir, are the biggest dork I have ever encountered, sheesh emailing the author….

He then exchanged the book for me.

I told Lauren about the exchange with the bookstore manager and she concurred with his Look.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Snack


Friday, August 31, 2007

Assets

FYI

A mortgage company does not consider "An awesome fantasy football team that will hopefully win me two hundred bucks" an asset.

Nor do they think having the number one overall draft pick for a fantasy football team an asset.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Family History

When I blog, I usually write a post in a Word document the first thing in the morning, somewhere between 5:30 and 7:00am. Then, I get to work, do a spell check, copy and paste and then post.

Recently my mornings have been occupied with something else.

A month ago I went to the doctor for a physical. Everything checked out okay except for my blood work. It seems that my Cholesterol and glucose are a little high. Nothing too alarming and nothing that some quickly prescribed pills could not fix. The doctor told me there are two ways to fix the high scores on my blood work. Diet/exercise or medication. I refused the prescription. I decided to try the diet and exercise route first. The doctor did not really like my approach. He tried to convince me I needed meds.

During the consultation, besides the normal check-up he also covered my family history.

“Is there a history of Cancer?” he asked.

“Check.”

“Is there a family history of heart disease?”

“Check.”

“Is there a history of high blood pressure?”

“Check.”

“Does diabetes run in the family?”

“Well it does not really run, it more or less saunters.” I replied.

“What?”

“Well there is one case of adult onset diabetes in my family. That’s not really running. It's more like a liesurely stroll.”

The doctor gave me a puzzling look and the told me that with the family history I have I really should consider the meds. I told him I would give the diet and exercise a try for three months and then I would reconsider. He again talked about family history.

"With the history of heart disease and diabetes in your family, I really think that medication might..."

“Look Doc.” I said cutting him off. “All of my grandparents lived into their 80s.”

“Well, that really does not mean much when it comes to…”

I cut him off again. “If you are going to use family history against me, I am going to use it against you.”

I have to follow up with him at the end of October.

My blog posts have not been that great as of late because in an effort to prove the doctor wrong, I now use my prime blogging time for exercise. Every morning somewhere between 5:30 and 7:00 I go out for a run.

Okay it is not really a run it is more of a saunter.

Monday, August 27, 2007

At the Table

My mom made tacos for dinner. Besides the cheese, meat, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, black olives etc. etc. she also prepared both hard shell corn tortilla and soft shell flour tortillas.

Lauren and I used to make tacos all the time but we always use the soft shell flour tortillas. Lauren reached across the table and grabbed one of the hard corn tortilla.

Holding the tortilla up she innocently said, "Man, I haven't had a hard one in such a long time."

I looked up at my father who was stifling a laugh and I started cracking up.

"Lauren, we live with my parents. It is difficult to find the alone time." I said.

My dad, now laughing said to Lauren, "Would you like for your mother-in-law and I to go for a walk."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mad Men

Anybody else watching the show Mad Men on AMC?

I find it fascinating. The show is unique and charming and the cast is awesome.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Colors

I don’t know if it is me, and my family, or if other people have their own personal colors for household items. Growing up, my siblings and I all had our own drinking cups. Plastic cups with our names written on them with magic marker. We were responsible for our cups at all times. We had to clean them and put them away. It helped reduce the amount of dishes that needed to be cleaned at the end of the day. It also gave my mom the ability to reprimand anyone who left their cups on the kitchen table, coffee table or end tables or anywhere else around the house. The plastic drinking cups at that time were only produced in 4 colors, Red, Orange, Blue and Green. With nine kids some of us shared the same colors but that is where the magic markers came in. I remember having a blue cup.

My mom did the same thing with socks. We all had socks with colored stripes at the top and we each were assigned a color; Red, Blue, Green, and Black. They were the standard colors at that time. My mom would write our initials on the toes of the socks so she could seperate them for laundry and so she could reprimand the person who left their socks on the kitchen table, coffee table or end table or anywhere else around the house. I remember having black striped socks.

Toothbrushes were something else entirely. I vaguely remember that we all kept our toothbrushes in our rooms. There were two reasons for this. One, so there would be no confusion as to whose brush was whose. And two, I don’t think anyone of us trusted the rest to not drop our toothbrush in the toilet. I remember my toothbrush was blue. I always got a blue toothbrush.

I still, at 37 and having a smaller family, get a blue toothbrush. The blue one in the cup on the sink is my toothbrush. The other color, whatever it may be, is Lauren’s. A few months ago we bought new toothbrushes for the family. They were out of blue so I picked up dark purple and white one and Lauren picked up a light green one. Now every morning when I go to brush my teeth, I have to stop and think about which brush is mine. It is very confusing not having a blue toothbrush.

What color is your toothbrush?