Monday, December 31, 2007

Conversation with my daughter

Hana and Sheila got new Digital Cameras for birthday and Christmas respectively. They are exactly the same camera. I asked Hana where her camera was cause Sheila's is sitting right here beside me.

"Upstairs in my room," she said.

"How can you tell which camera is yours," I asked.

"Cause mine is upstairs in my room."


A man's man

I almost had a new reputation at church as a man who keeps his family in line, including his wife. ALMOST, I said.

Get this picture.

I'm in Sunday school listening to a fabulous teacher tell us many spiritual things, and my wife walks in the back and taps me on the shoulder.

"Preston's having a hard morning and I need your help."

I get up and follow her out.

"He's been running from me and he refuses to go to class. He's very near throwing a fit."
I go out into the foyer with my wife to find him and he's not to be seen. Sheila's pretty mad at this point. (Her days of actually chasing after a kid down the hall are pretty much near the end.)
Then I see him hiding under a coffee table.

I go into 'Dad' mode.

"Get up. What's the problem?"

Whining ensues.

"I can't understand you when you whine. Speak clearly please"

Note my calm tone?

He refuses to speak or sit up on the couch and begins to make some rather ugly comments.

We all have those days, right?

So here comes the good picture.

I'm sitting on Couch B, leaning forward in intense mode, Sheila is sitting on Couch A leaning back frustrated and nearly at her wits end. Preston is curled in a ball at the X mark, refusing to speak and trying to hide from the world.

Along comes a friend who happens to live across the street from me, on his way from class to the Men's room.

Before he walked in the foyer I had made the statement to Preston, "If you refuse to talk to us and apologize to Mommy for making rude and ugly comments, then you will lose your privileges for the day."
Just as he entered the room Preston's time for compliance had run out and I made the statement, "OK. If that's how you want to act then you have lost all your privileges for today. And you can't earn them back."

I noticed a pause in his step and I was hoping that he wouldn't feel the need to enter the conversation, but he went on about his mission.

We finally got Preston up on the couch, Couch A that is, and he apologized and was calming down when my friend returned from his chore.

As he walked back through the foyer I heard a chuckle and he went on back to class.

It wasn't until after church that I saw things from his perspective. Seems he had heard just the statement about losing privileges and not been able to see Preston hiding behind the couch. This fellow thought I was making the statement about losing privileges to my wife. He told me later that at first he wanted to talk to me about my marital communication skills until he saw the whole picture.

I'm not sure if he wanted to correct them or learn from them.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Well, It's a done deal. There is a new member of our little clan. This expands us to 6. We're getting bigger and bigger. We all went together as a family to the court, sat in front of the judge and said this is what we want. We want this little guy to be a full-fledged member of our family.

Some things came to mind as I sat there.

I'm 45 years old and this is the first time I've had to appear before a judge. I guess I've done OK in that regard.

Also, this was probably one of those hearings that a judge looks forward to presiding over. I'm sure he sees lots of crap throughout his day and to have a room full of smiles and mom's crying tears of joy probably makes his day.

My brother-in-law was there with his camera taking pictures of this momentous event and the judge just smiled. Also, I am sure, not a common occurrence.

Preston's case worker wanted to come and watch as well. I was thinking, "You did good, lady. You did a good job with this one."

After it was over Sheila wanted to go out to lunch to celebrate so we went to a restaurant that I have never been to but Sheila and Hana raved about it. Cold Stone Creamery. I knew they served ice cream since that's what they're known for but I also figured they served maybe some small sandwiches of some kind since that's where my wife wanted to go for lunch. Alas, once again, I was wrong. No sandwiches. No hot dogs. No meals of any kind. Unless, that is you consider a big bowl of ice cream with fudge, chocolate chips, and sprinkles, all served in a waffle bowl a meal. Apparently my wife a daughter do. I must admit, it was the best ice cream I have ever had. I had Cake Batter ice cream with white chocolate chips and pieces of Heath bars in a regular waffle bowl. My word, was it ever good.

After the ice cream we were gonna take Preston to the mall cause he wanted to get his ears pierced and he wasn't allowed to do that while he was still a foster child. But we ran out of time and had to go straight to the movie theater. What a shame. ;)

So we went from ice cream to an arcade at thye theater and played a couple games, bought two big bags of popcorn, with two big jugs of Diet Coke and went in to find our seats.

The kids wanted to sit in the very back and this is one of those cool theaters where you can see over the person in front of you so we said sure.

Turns out one of my bosses was in there with his family as well.

We saw the new National Secret movie. It was pretty good. Not as good as the first one but then they very seldom are, right?

After the movie we were all pretty wore out so it was off to the house to try to find soemthing for dinner.

Can you say FULL?!

Nobody could agree on what they wanted so I pulled an executive decision moment and said, "You're all on your own."

Preston and Isaac had frozen Bagel Bites.

Hana wanted something from Lil' Bella's which either has or will change it's name to Payne's pizza or something like that.

Sheila, Ben and I wanted to Chinese so it was off to the Jade Palace for our regular fix. (Hana doesn't like Chinese food. I keep asking her how she could be my child and feel that way.)

General Tso's Chicken, Pot Stickers, and two orders of Beef Lo Mien with varying degrees of spiciness. We sat down and watched a few episodes from the first season of Seinfeld. I made it through the first two and then I was asleep in my chair. Can you say 'Archie Bunker reincarnated'? I told Sheila that National Secret was the first movie I had stayed awake through in several months. Yes, I regularly fall asleep in the movie theater. I'm a lousy date. I fell asleep during Saw4. Sheila woke me up by stabbing me in the arm with her fingernails. Either it was an intense scene or I was snoring.

Well, that's it. Life goes on in the Prozac belt. See ya next time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Four Days

I just wanted to make it four days in a row.

See ya.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three days

I'm on a roll! Three days blogging in a row. What can I say. My fans are screaming for me. Can you hear them? No? Turn up your scanner. Now can you hear them? I thought that was the problem.

There's a laundromat, or is it laundrymat, a half block away across from the video store. When we're outta soda's we'll walk down and get a Diet Pepsi out of their machine. We've lost money a few times but that's the price of living in America, right?

I walked down there yesterday evening to get me and Isaac a soda cause he was helping me shovel the ice off the sidewalk. Dropped 4 quarters in the machine, hit the appropriate button and a diet Pepsi dropped just like it's supposed to. But then another one dropped. And another. And yes, you guessed it, another one. I thought "Cool, four sodas for the price of one." And then I hit the mother lode. The machine spit my 4 quarters back at me. JACKPOT!!! If only the Vegas slots worked like that for me. On top of that, Sheila looked under her bottle cap (yes, I let her have one) and found the "Buy one, get one free" line. Does that count as 5?

My yard looks really nasty with the snow mostly melted and the mud raising it's ugly head. I wonder if I can replace it with Astroturf.

We got our Christmas tree yesterday. I was planning on waiting til the end of next week when I figured they would be real cheap but we got a good deal. Six foot tree that's real pretty for $25. The guys were closing up shop for the season, lucky we stopped on the way home, and they threw in two wreaths, three bundles of cuttings, and 75 feet of that fresh garland stuff. Know what I'm talking about? Had to cut some branches off the bottom of the tree to get in the stand but it still looks good. I took the branches I cut off and stuck them in the mud right in front of my porch. Viola! Instant bushes. Is that how you spell viola? Sounds like vwahlah. Anyway. There you go.

Picture time.

This is what the front drive axle of my semi normally looks like.

And this is the landing gear under the trailer under normal conditions.

Now here's both those items after driving 11 hours through snow and ice. I'd lay good money I had an extra 2000 lbs of snow and ice hanging off that truck by the end of that day. Maybe that's why all the scales were closed. That and the fact that all the troopers were out helping the stranded motorists.

Maybe I should stop for fuel.

My truck is equipped with "Optimized Idle". What this is supposed to do is start and stop the engine in order to maintain the temperature in the cab while I sleep. It'll run the AC or the heat, whichever I need. Did you notice I said "supposed to"? It doesn't work on my truck. 554,000 miles has a tendency to cause wear and tear on a system. So when it's hot outside I open the vents on the side and the top windows of the sleeper and relax. Actually, that works pretty well unless we're talking 90's. When it's cold, I use what's called a Webasto heater. It's like those propane torpedo heaters you see in construction sights. It runs off the diesel fuel and heats the cab that way. If the temps drop below 20 I just run the motor. Below 20 for too long and the motor will be hard to start in the morning unless I plug it in, and unless I'm at my own shop, chances are I'm not gonna have a place to plug in.

I noticed on my Stat Counter that I had 63 page loads on Sunday. Man, there must have been a large number of extremely bored people on Sunday.

Can you tell it's been quiet in my house? I've gotten a lot done this morning. And Preston's up. He wants hot chocolate, puppy chow (the candy kind). Wants me to teach him how to make coffee. Here comes Isaac. The quiet is officially over.

See ya.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Price of a child

How do you put a price on a child? As you all probably know already we are proceeding with the adoption process of a little guy we call Preston. He is a gem and fits into our family like a glove. As far as my other children are concerned he's already their brother. We cannot imagine life without him.
Yesterday we met with authorities from his home county in order to negotiate whatever support we may be able to receive in order to acclimate him into our family and to meet his medical needs.
Awful! Absolutely Awful experience. My wife and I had already determined that we would proceed regardless of the support level that we received but this little man has needs that are out of the ordinary due to the crap that he's already been through. Can our family cover those costs? Never mind the fact that when he becomes our son in a legal framework we will no longer receive the stipend that comes through the fostering agency.
So we ask. What can the county commit to? Obviously governments are limited by budget constraints and if you have ever dealt with a child welfare department you probably know that they are at the bottom of the barrel as far as allocations are concerned. It's a crime. Governments spend so much money and we hear everyday of money being wasted and stolen from this department or that one. On the way into work this morning I heard that Medicaid was under investigation for $90 million in questionable expenditures. We don't need $90 million. Maybe 0.00001% of that. Maybe. (Hope I got that number right.)
Well, as far as we are concerned, on December 28 this little man will be part of our clan. Officially! On paper! Signed, sealed and delivered. Regardless of the help we can get, it's a done deal in our hearts.
If fostering is within your capabilities as a family, it is a fantastic way to make a difference in the life of a child. My wife was created for this. This is her skill. She excels at that. Me, I tag along and say "Yes, dear," whenever it is appropriate. Which is usually about every 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

By the way

By the way, everyone got home OK on Saturday. Despite all my worrying. After they were home we pretty much hunkered down and waited the storm out. It hit again on Sunday and I didn't leave for my run til Monday morning. Spent Saturday night with the family watching movies and eating Chinese.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday, In the park

It's Saturday afternoon, snowing heavily outside, (of course it wouldn't be snowing heavily inside and if it were I would have a lot more problems than life has already thrown at me) my wife and the two oldest are off in town and I think are on their way home as we speak. I have moved all my music around, stolen some from hotplate's blog, loaded it on my phone so I can listen since my 8-track deck still isn't working in my truck, read through some of the posts on my Google-Reader that I've missed this week since my kids wouldn't let me on the computer, made my various and normally humorous comments, wondered if that's really how you spell kanipshen, took the two youngest and a friend of my son's who is here for the weekend to the recently rebuilt McD's in town for breakfast cause Preston wanted scrambled eggs and I hate making them, oohed and aahed over the modern decor that McD's has gone with here in Mayberry, called my wife to make sure that she was okay and remind her to drive carefully on the way home, got back home and started reading blogs again, made Isaac put the clean dishes away, checked the weather, put on another pair of socks, told the kids to turn it down, snickered over Julie's husband and their tree, checked the weather, called my wife, told the kids to turn it down, wished I was where Craig and Diane were, called my wife, checked the weather, moved some music, rejoiced in the fact that my freight is all in a box and doesn't have to be chained down, burned (or AM burning) a DVD, talked to the local Jehovah's witness that knocked on the door, wondered if Tracy made those videos herself, found out they don't celebrate christmas, asked them if that means they don't drink coffee, had to explain my humor...again..., wondered about greeny's pole dancing skills, tried to keep playing my Play-Station while the JW's were talking, thought, "Hey, my kids use that word all the time.", walked them to the door, said goodbye, wished them a Merry Christmas, went back to the blogging, wondered if I would ever use this word in a sentence, thought about Mark's dad, called my folks, told Preston that if he wanted anything for dinner before mom got home he could have anything from the litter box that he wanted, got the two young ones to help me with the dishes, picked up the dining room and the living room, started another DVD since the first one finished, and wrote this blog. Time for a drink. What! My margarita bottle is empty and gone. Oh yeah, now I remember. WOOT! That was a fun night. I wonder if Sheila's passed the liquor store yet?

PRESTON!! Get outta the litter box!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's official

It's official. We have been officially approved for adoption. No, not for us to be adopted. For us to adopt our little guy, Preston, whose been with us for 10 months now. I cannot in any way shape or form imagine this house without him now. The final hearing is Dec. 28. What a Christmas present!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Thanks for all the good ideas. I really appreciate it all. I must say, I was in a fairly bad mood that morning but things are better now. Still the same as far as hecticness goes but I've got a better attitude.

I have taken all of your suggestions to heart. I ordered her a little something that I can't tell you about right now because she sometimes reads this blog but I think she'll like it and I'll let you know about it later. Next week maybe.

I have also thought about what Dan said. "Fatherhood is sexy". Never thought of it that way but now that I think about it she really enjoys it when I do something special for the kids, not just for her.

We could both stand to walk more, her knee is better now, and even though it's not the best weather for walking, that's something that we need to do. Seems like that's the only way we're gonna get any quiet time is to get out of the house. It's too cold to get hot and heavy in the park so you probably won't read about us in the news anytime soon.

Which reminds me. We went to counseling a few years ago and the counselor recommended we strengthen our marriage by finding ways to be intimate without engaging in sex. He said we would talk about it every week and see how it was going. The first week he asked how things went and we said it wasn't too bad, and te second week was pretty much the same. The third and fourth weeks were a little harder we told him but we had discovered some new things about each other. The fifth week without sex we went into see him and he asked how things were going.

I said, "We failed. We couldn't help ourselves."

He said, "Tell me what happened."

I said, "You know, we talked about the fact that she's been wanting to do some painting around the house and She thinks it sexy when I help her with things like that. Well, we decided to paint the living room and the kids were out of town for the weekend at the grandparents so we could get the painting done without any interruption. She bent over to pick up a can of paint and I just couldn't help myself. I had to have her right then."

He was pretty disappointed and he said,"It doesn't sound like you two are serious about this therapy. If you can only go five weeks then maybe you should try some other therapy and not come back here."

I said,"That's ok. We're not aloud back into Home Depot anymore either."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not a happy one

I didn't realize two weeks have gone by since my last post. Same old problem, kids and work. If it's not one thing it's another. But I wouldn't trade either for anything right now.
So why do I feel so alone sometimes. this is something I have been struggling with lately. Sorry if this isn't my usual happy go lucky post. Sometimes life gets in the way and I just want to keep rolling when everyone in front of me is stopped for that red light.
Been married 23 years. Have 4 kids. An adoption is in the works. I have an excellent job. It pays well and I enjoy it. I have a house, renting but at least a roof over my head. Two cars, three dogs a cat and a couple fish. There are so many other ways that I am blessed. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
So what's the deal? Why should I feel like moping and throwing ye old pity party? My wife lives in the same house with me, that's usually how it works, and yet I miss her. I tell her that and she says the same thing and then life gets in the way and we still miss each other. We try to take time with each other and but it usually doesn't happen without some very serious planning aforehand. Which takes any spontaneity out of the picture and seems to ruin it.
Man, this is a really depressing post. If you want to keep reading, go ahead. If not, see ya next time and have a good day.
You would think after being married 23 years we would have this thing down better than this. Her sister is two doors down and her folks are moving to town. I already miss my wife. Will I miss her more? I read Diane's blog and I am seriously, intensely jealous of the time they have together. I know life is not always a bed of roses. I'm not an idiot. But then there should at least be a rose here and there. Wouldn't you think?
So what to do? We separated once a few years ago and I really don't want to go through that again nor do I want a divorce. She's an unbelievably sweet and wonderful woman. I just don't want to share her. Is that selfish? If so, right now, I don't care. I don't want to share my wife. I saw the TV show and the movie and neither one was any good.
What is going through my mind right now is that I need to step up and make the changes that are necessary. She likes surprises. So I will surprise her. She likes chocolate, what woman doesn't, and she likes candles. Maybe a chocolate candle?
So I need to work on this. My problem is that when I get down and feeling alone, which happens from time to time, I don't always make the right choices regarding how to deal with my loneliness, and I usually feel worse.
AM posted about online shopping and I don't do much of that. Maybe I can surprise her with something special. I need some help though. If you know of cool places to go online, please, please, please, let me know.
Sorry again that this isn't so joyful here but it's early Saturday morning and the house is quiet and...well, enough excuses.
So help...
Her likes: Little house on the Prairie, The Walton's, Chocolate, candles, scrap booking, children, babies, Americana, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Kenny G, Kenny Loggins, buying things for other people, Willow tree stuff, action movies.
Dislikes: Coffee, gossip magazines, nuclear war, vegetables, laundry.
If you're a guy, what would you do for a woman like this? If you're a woman like this or even if you're not like this but still a woman, what would you want done for you? And remember, 4 kids and two of them in college. Money isn't growing on trees here, it's being yanked up by the roots and that only with much fight and determination. Email me if you want.
She's a great wife and we need some spark back.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Road Signs

Just a few road signs I thought you might find interesting.

Don't think I have enough horsepower.
Not sure I had the clearance for this tunnel.

Now what do I do?

Good thing I was driving.

Damn toll roads!


I went to a Toughman competition Friday with a friend from church. Her husband had received free ringside VIP tickets from work and she really wanted to go but her husband didn't want to go. He also didn't want her to go alone or with another girlfriend, these shows being what they are, and so she asked my wife if she would mind if I went with her. Then she asked me. I said sure and it was pretty cool. Not exactly what I thought but fun for a night out of the house.

My friend is a boxing fan and I follow it sometimes. I guess as far as these fights here, I was expecting more than I saw. Mostly guys off the street who thought they were good fighters. Didn't look like any more than 5 of them had trained at all or were in decent shape and that's out of 43 fighters. The fights mostly looked like playground brawls. Lots of arm swinging and wild throws.

As I said, it was fun for a night out but I wouldn't spend my own money on it. Free tickets are hard to turn down though. One sad note was that there were two fighters who were 38 and 43. the announcer said they were fighting in the Senior Division. 38 is a senior?! Maybe I can get my coffee discounted at McDonalds now.

Me, I'm not much of a fighter. Never have been. Never really needed to. Most fellows were scared off by my dashing good looks and my extreme confident demeanor. That and the quivering lower lip and tears running down my face.

But you can call me Braveheart.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Sky

I got home yesterday about 2pm and something just looked different. I couldn't tell what was different about my house. then it hit me. the tree in my front yard, the largest in the neighborhood, was GONE!! In it's place was...well... nothing! Just a stump where the tree had been and about a third of the tree still laying in the yard for someone to pick up. It was a big beautiful Poplar tree and it really fit well. Apparently the city made the decision that it was easier to cut the tree down than to keep coming back every couple years to trim it and keep it out of the high lines that run right next to my house. I have this big piece of open sky in my front yard.

Now to give them credit, they had told me that they wanted to cut it down, and I wasn't real pleased about it but I wasn't really given much of an option. I guess I could have chained my kids out there to prevent the cutting of the tree but they would have probably had a problem with that, what with it getting cold at night now.

So now I guess I need to go buy some trees. Anybody got any suggestions on what kind of trees I should plant? I was thinking some smaller ones, to keep them from being cut down again, and my wife would love some that flower up real nice. I guess I should check and see what grows good around here. Maybe I'll do that next.

We got word from the county that they have set the court date for the aforementioned adoption proceedings to occur on December 28. Now wouldn't that be a cool Christmas present? Does Santa deliver 7 year olds? Apparently so.

Quick question. Do women sometimes wink at men as a form of greeting and not necessarily mean something like 'Hey, I think you're cute' or ' Want to take me out for a drink'? I was in the DMV or BMV or Hell, whichever they call it in your area, getting my drivers license renewed yesterday, two days late I might add, and I had just been handed my new license. I was sitting there checking the info and admiring my new picture, and as I stood to leave a young woman, thirtyish, had just walked in. I looked up and smiled in greeting. She smiled at me and winked. I was a little surprised. I'm not used to having anyone but my wife wink at me and then only when she's trying to pull something over on the kids. I asked my wife about this and she said that she thought some women did but probably not very many. I'm not sure if I should believe her though since she doesn't get out of the house but about once every two months or so.

So what do ya'll think? Let me know, please.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What a week. Up and down, up and down. And not even the fun kind of up and down. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. As I said before, I went to those two funerals. One young man was big in custom bikes and there were more bikers at his funeral than any other culture that I could tell. It was certainly an interesting time. The other funeral, my s-i-l’s brother, was packed. I’d bet there were 500 people there. He grew up in that area and very active in transplant advocacy, sports, and his family. It was a beautiful time. Lots of tears, sure, but still a beautiful time.

As a result of these two funerals, I have made a decision. I am going to do my own funeral. Preach the Eulogy, I mean. I can hear you saying, “John, you’re insane. How can you preach your own funeral if you are dead?” Video, my friend. Video. I am going to purchase a cheap video camera or get a web cam and every six months or so I will update my funeral speech, just in case I go unexpectedly. That way I can make everyone laugh and there won’t be so many tears.

Actually, my kids think it’s a great idea. They want me to put one of those remote control fart machines in the casket with me with a motion sensor on it so if anyone gets real close it’ll go off. I think I’m also going to build my own casket at work and use it as a coffee table until the time comes. That way my wife or kids, whoever is left, won’t need to buy an expensive coffin.
I will have instructions left that my funeral cannot cost more than $500 dollars, not including the food, (the food alone for the several thousand people that will show up would be much more than that.) Then after the funeral I will be cremated and my ashes spread over the lawn of the IRS building in DC. Two reasons for that. They will have gotten most everything else already and it’ll give my family another chance to go to DC and visit the zoo and the Smithsonian.

Ok, enough with my funeral. Right now I’m sitting in Ontario, NY at a service plaza and I can’t move for another 9 hours or so. I’m out of hours and since I’ve been running toll roads all day there’s no way to stretch it out. I’m pretty tired since I was up late last night cause my family was throwing me a b-day party. It’s the big 45 now. Is this middle age or did I already pass it? Sure doesn’t feel like it.

Got some really cool gifts. My wife bought me an XM satellite radio for my truck, which I will probably spend the weekend trying to hook up. I love it! My daughter got me a disc cleaner so that I can clean the DVD’s that I’m burning without having to return them. And a really cool gift was a surprise to everyone, even the friend who bought it. She’s not a big book reader but she heard me say once that I collect first edition books. I don’t have anything real special as far as I know but I love books and maybe some day they’ll be worth something. One of my favorite authors is Larry McMurtry, a phenomenal writer. Anyway, she was in a flea market and bought several books that appeared to her to be first editions. She picked one up by Larry McMurtry cause she remembered the name not knowing anything about the book or the author, just that I liked him. Turns out what she bought for a dollar was a first edition copy of the book “Horsemen Pass By”, the very first book that Larry McMurtry ever wrote. Copyright is 1961. The dust jacket is not in great shape but it is still really really cool. A piece of history. If you’re not familiar with the book, it was made into a movie called “Hud” which starred a very young Paul Newman.

Oh and one more thing. I forgot that my drivers license expires on my birthday and so I sit here in NY with a dead license. I should make it home ok. If not, maybe I'll get sent back to Nevada.

I’m off, have fun, be safe and remember, shiny side up, rubber side down.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Real life

Lies, or stories, whichever you want to call them are hard to maintain. Sometimes life gets in the way of fantasy and one just does not have the energy to keep up the charade. On that note I will abandon this tale of far off travel and return to the real world of my life here in wonderful cold, rainy, snowy, dreary Ohio. Can't you just feel the enthusiasm?

So many things to do that I really don't want to do. A funeral of the son of an ex-co-worker to go to today and the viewing Sunday and funeral Monday of my sister-in-laws brother.

The coworkers son was 24 and killed in a car accident and my sister-in-laws brother was 30 and died from an infection picked up somehow during a routine hernia operation. I say routine. Is it routine anytime someone cuts the body open and moves things around inside? I think we have reached that point somehow where that is our view.

Two young men. I've got 20 years on one and 14 on the other. Both of them active and sports oriented. Me? I live a fairly sedentary life, and yet I still toddle on, doing my thing. It was close last year, sure, but I guess I really didn't let that sink in. I am not 24 anymore. Neither am I 30. I am, statistically, on the down hill side of middle age. Why then do I still feel as though my life is still just beginning. I've seen the t-shirts that say "I may grow old but I refuse to grow up" and sometimes I think this has become my personal mantra. Both of these men enjoyed life, as far as I could see. One was an advocate for transplants, and those that deal with that particular issue, and the other built custom motorcycles. They took what time they had and enjoyed it. I should do the same.

Kyle, my sister-in-laws brother, had a relationship with God and therefore a hope for more after this life. The other young man, I do not know what his beliefs were. Personally, I believe that this world is not enough. I personally need the hope that there is more than what we see here and so I hope for a life eternal. Some do some don't. This is not my pulpit. This is my armchair. This is where I share with those who care to share. I hope that there is rest from the ugliness I see here. I hope there is a clearer image of the beauty I see here. I hope I do not have to say "I am sorry for your loss" one more time after this weekend. I am sure that will not be the case, but I can hope.

Unless I leave this world fairly soon, I imagine that I will say those words again. God, I hate those words. They are never enough. So I think of what I can do. I remember the story of a man who's friend had lost a young child to death. At a loss for words of comfort, he went to his friends house the morning of the funeral and shined all the family member's shoes. One less thing for them to need to worry about. I guess that's the attitude I want to have. Men tend to think they need to do something and so we look for that opening. I'm a man and so I will not fight against my nature. What can I do to help? Is it shining shoes, taking care of the children, washing dishes, driving family members here and there? Let me do something to help.

Remember the story of Job in the bible? The devil has a bet with God that he can get Job to curse God and God takes him up on it. Job loses everything except his wife. During his mourning 3 friends come to visit him. A lot of attention has been given in sermons of the words that these 3 friends spoke. One thing that struck me when I read this story is that when these 3 friends came to Job they didn't say anything for SEVEN days! For seven days they sat with their friend and kept quiet and just let him know that they were mourning with him. I think this was the smartest thing they did. Ah, but then they had to start talking and screwed it all up. Us men, we want to fix it. Sometimes we can't fix it and sometimes we shouldn't even try. My wife doesn't always want to hear what I think she should do different to solve her problems. Sometimes my wife wants me to shut up and listen to her vent her frustrations. That took a long time for me to learn. But learn it I did. I forget sometimes, but they are fewer than they used to be.

And so I end on a more positive note. Our foster boy is one step closer, as of yesterday, to becoming a full-fledged member of our family. He would be child number 4 for us and this is something that he would like, or so he says right now. When asked by his case worker if he would want me and my wife to adopt him, he looked at her and said, "Yes, but then that means they can spank me." His case worker laughed and my wife gave her evil witches cackle while rubbing her hands together saying "It's been such a long time since I spanked a little boys bottom." If you know my wife you see the humor. If you don't, trust me, it's there. Speaking of the little man, here he comes, singing his alphabet. He sure is a morning person. I'd hate to see him when he starts drinking coffee.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On My Way Home

I left yesterday morning and started out from Rachel, NV. Good thing they fueled my truck. the gas station in Rachel is closed. For good maybe. But the Little A'Le'Inn was open and so I swung in there, picked me up a coffee and an ET Danish, talked with Pat and Connie for a bit, and headed out.

Actually had a drive on the Extraterrestrial highway (NV state route 375) and saw a weird bus with no markings turning up some dirt road headed straight out into the desert. Looked like the "51" folks were headed for work. There were a few "ET" watchers lining the highway with their high tech camera's, but our government has a lot better high tech stuff so they weren't getting too close.

Took the ET highway into Warm Springs and looked around. The bath house was closed but I was able to jump in the hot springs themselves. Apparently folks do not appreciate bathing au natural.

I took RT 6 into Ely and stopped at the Cell Block Steak House for lunch. Got me a little nap and headed out for Salt Lake City. I got into Salt Lake and figured with all the sitting around I'd been doing I could use a little exercise. So I found this walking tour and started out for a stroll. It probably would have been better if I had actually gotten there during the daylight hours. But it was a nice stroll nonetheless. Saw some beautiful architecture and one amazing building that had some pretty cool looking angels with trumpets on top of these really tall spires. Looked sort of like a church or something which is what it turned out to be. Went inside and heard these folks practicing. They didn't sound half bad.

Got back from my stroll, had a snack and headed for bed. Looked like it was going to be a long run home. But I figured since the government was paying my mileage home I might take a few side trips on the way.

Got up early and headed out stopping in Evanston, WY for breakfast at Billy-Bob's Cowboy Chuckwagon. All this good food wasn't too great for my heart so I figured I would slow down some and maybe make some shorter days out of it.

Left Evanston and headed out towards Rawlings, WY. I had heard there was some pretty cool stuff to see there so I figured I would check it out. Te rumors were true. But that will have to follow in the next edition. I will try not to take so long next time. Have fun and stay tuned for more fun from the road.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quickly Part 3 and the last. It's a long one.

Well, I have been released and I will soon be on my way east. Got a long way to go. But since I was "working" for a government entity for the last couple days, I have to take a few hours off, ten to be exact, in order to get my swindle sheets up to snuff.

Ok, this is it.

I'm looking in the hole and I see something glowing down there. Looks like a big rock but it's glowing like a Lava Lamp. Colors shifting and moving. Not like there's anything alive in there but just shifting colors. at least that's what I thought anyway.

Apparently our government wasn't taking any chances.

What ever it was about 10 feet down in this hole and I couldn't reach it, not sure I wanted to at this point, and so I left it and went back to my truck, got my warning triangles out set them up back down the highway. Since my trailer was unhooked, I set some flares out as well for a little extra light. Not too much later the State Trooper shows up and starts asking the usual questions.

"What happened? Is anyone hurt? What are you hauling? Where's you're log book?" that sort of thing. I tell him what all happened and I think that a meteor hit my trailer.

"You sure it wasn't a meteorite?" he says.

Here we go again. I show him the hole and let him make up his own mind. He gets on the radio and calls it in to whoever they call that stuff in to and says the Chief Trooper will call back in a few minutes.

And then the fun begins. From here on it's a cross between ET and Silkwood. Not five minutes later, and the chief trooper hasn't called yet by the way, a huge black tractor-trailer with no markings comes flying up beside me and stops in the middle of the road, blocking both lanes. I figure that's not too bright, somebody's gonna get hit, but then it dawns on me that since the trooper showed up, no other traffic has passed me. Found out later the road had been closed about 4 miles behind me. Man, they move fast.

The back and two doors on the side of the trailer open up and about 8 or 9 guys jump out in those Tyvec looking suits, all covered up and with the breather masks on and everything. They must do this a lot cause nobody said a word. They all just started running around, each one doing there own particular thing. Four of the guys, and these were big fellows, came over to me and the trooper and grabbed us both up without a word and hustled us in through the side door of the trailer. I glanced down the road toward the hole as I was carried inside and saw the two others walking slowly in the direction of the hole, carrying a large steel looking box between them and looking at something that I assumed might be a Geiger counter or something like that.
The trooper and I were tossed in the trailer where two other guys in rubber suits shoved us toward the back of the trailer. That thing sure looked a lot bigger on the inside than it appeared to be on the outside.

We were summarily stripped of our clothes, without even dinner and a glass of wine first, and forced into a chemical shower of sorts. Ever see the movie Silkwood where Meryl Streep, I think it was her, gets that forced shower after being exposed to radiation? Let me tell you, NO FUN AT ALL!!! And these guys were scrubbing hard. I was as red as a beet when they got done.

Apparently they trashed or burned or sealed up all my clothes cause after they were done scrubbing I was given one of the Tyvec suits to wear, but without the helmet. Guess they figured if I wasn't dead yet from breathing whatever was out there it probably wasn't going to happen. Or if it did, it might solve some of their problems.

The trooper looked just as pissed as I felt. Good thing they took his gun. He looked like he wanted to use it. Anyway, we were both shoved into this little cubicle near the shower, the door slammed and locked behind us. There we were, sitting there looking at each other and wandering what the heck was going on.

"Who'd you call?" I asked the trooper.

"Just my dispatch," he said. "But the chief didn't say anything about these guys." "Well who are they then?" I asked.

"No idea," he said. "Never seen them before in my life. Never even heard of them."

"Hell, I've heard of them before. Haven't you ever seen ET or Men in Black? That's what they look like."

"That's just Hollywood", he said.

"Hollywood or not", I said, "these guys are serious. I'm clean in places I never knew I had."

We sat for a while and just tried to listen to what all was going on outside but we really couldn't hear much. After about 2 hours, or at least that's what it seemed like, the door opens and we are moved to two seats further up towards the front of the trailer. Two of the big guys, still wearing their suits buckled us in and then we heard the truck start moving. It was pretty weird being in the back of a moving trailer. I'd only ever ridden in the tractor, you know. When you're back there in the back and you can't see the road coming at you, you can't roll with the road curves. It's like riding a really slow roller coaster blind. Weird feeling, that's for sure.

But apparently we didn't have far to go. It wasn't to long before the truck started taking smaller and smaller roads until we were finally running on something that felt like washboard dirt. And it was. The truck stopped and the doors opened up again and we are on a dirt road right next to a field that must have been a half mile long, whatever was growing there had apparently been cut recently, and there sits this big helicopter. Now I'm no big fan of flying and I have sworn I would never try a chopper but the Beastie Boys at my back weren't giving me much of an option.

Both the trooper and I were escorted, HA!, more like thrown into the chopper and the big boys followed us in. We took off and headed back east. I leaned forward and hollered at the pilot, "Hey, I just came from there. You wanna take me St Louis in this thing? I'll buy you a drink at the casino." No sense of humor. I watched my truck and trailer get smaller as we flew away.

We landed about 10 minutes later at a small airfield and were hustled off the helicopter and onto a business type jet. Beavis and Butthead buckled us in again and in about 3 minutes we were in the air again, this time headed west. "This is more like it", I said. "I can be in St Louis in no time at this rate. Do we get a movie on this flight? How about a cocktail?" Still no sense of humor. I figured wherever we were going, at least I wasn't driving so that left one thing. Nap time.

I'm not sure what time it was when I woke up but we were landing. I could feel my ears popping and in a couple minutes we were on the ground. Still dark as sin out there so I wasn't sure where we were yet. But when they opened the door and Jeff and Mutt dragged us outside, it was then that I could smell the sage. that's when I figured desert, government, things from space, must be Nevada. Maybe even Area 51.

From the plane to a military style hummer to a big building to a jail cell. Maybe it was a brig since it was all military looking. Not sure what the difference is. Sure didn't seem like much of a difference if there was any.

So there I was sitting in my cell trying to sneak onto my laptop, still hurting from that little hiding game, and here comes this guy in a white coat.

"So you're the driver, "he says.

"Yep. that's me," I said. "And I still haven't been paid for the pizza. Tell them it's cash only."
At last, a small grin. Not much but I can work with that.

"Do you know where you are?" he asks.

"I don't think it's Disneyworld," I say.

"Well, you're right about that. It sure is not Disneyworld."

"So where am I?"

"Area 53"



"Why not 51"

"Because we don't think there is anything living on the meteorite that hit your truck."

"So it's a meteorite, then?"

"Yes, what did you think it was?"

"I thought it might be a meteor."

"Common mistake."

"So if this isn't Area 51 why didn't we go to Area 52?"

"52 isn't working right now. we're having some plumbing problems. "

"Somebody flush ET?"

"No, that would have been 51, remember?"

"So what's the plumbing problem?"

"It took too much water to fill the pool and now the mess hall sinks are dry. Just sucking air. We gotta wait for the well to fill back up."


"Never mind about that. We just wanted to check with you about the meteorite that hit your truck. Can you tell us about it?" "Sure", I said. "I was driving down the road...and lets see...what happened next...oh yeah...A METEOR HIT MY TRUCK!!"


"Oh yeah, meteorite. That's right."

"Is that all?"

"That's pretty much it. After that the Galactic Calvary showed up, scrubbed us inside and out, and whisked us away to this high class resort we're at right now. So where do we go from here?"

"What do you mean, 'where do we go'?"

"What's next?" For a white coat, this fellow sure had a dim bulb.

"We are waiting on some blood work tests to come back and if all is still normal we should be releasing you to be on your way."

"So I'm in Nevada, right?"

"I'm not really supposed to answer that, but yes. You are in Nevada."

"And how am I supposed to be on my way? Last thing I knew I was in Illinois and so was my truck. You all gonna fly me back there?"

"Actually, you're truck arrived about 2 hours ago. If all is well, you can drive back."

"You realize how far that is?"

"Believe me. I know exactly how far we are from everything. It seems like there is nothing to do out here but work."

"I am so sorry for your predicament. You know, if I weren't sitting here behind bars I might have a little more sympathy for you. but alas, this is where I am."

"I see"

"So let me get this straight. If my blood work comes back normal and I don't have any weird crap growing inside me I have the distinct honor of climbing back in my truck and driving an extra 2000 miles in order to get where I was going in the first place."

"Yes, that is correct."

"You mind telling me who's paying for all this. Never mind my time that I have lost but the fuel alone is going to cost me over a grand."

"I guess that's where you get lucky. the government is paying for it."


"Really. You see, since you were picked up in that truck you actually became a ward of the US government until we released you. So we picked up all your expenses as well as paid you at a fair rate."

"And what do you call a fair rate?"

"How about $67 an hour? That is around the clock and already includes hardship pay so don't try to pull a fast one on us by filing for that at a later date."

"$67 bucks an hour? Sounds fair to me." Actually it sounded pretty darn great. So I was going to argue with the doc here too much. Besides, they hadn't really treated me too bad now that I thought about it. Just a few pokes and prods. A minor kidnapping. But I did get a free flight out of the deal and with that sort of money in my pocket I might stop in Vegas on my way back. Never know what can happen there, right? heh heh.

“Alright, you got a deal”, I said. “I’ll just sit here quietly until my tests come back and then I’ll be on my way.”

“Thank you for being so understanding. We really are sorry about this whole thing,” he said. “But you can never be too careful. What with all the stuff coming in every day from space.”


“Never mind. I shouldn’t have said that. Anyway, I’ll let you know when the tests get back.”

It was another hour before Doc came back to me to tell me that I was all clear, no parasitic killer worms growing in my gut, and that I could get on out of there. I gathered up all my personal belongings which amounted to squat since all I had on was a paper suit, and I headed for my truck. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised. Seems they had even washed it for me and when I climbed inside and fired it up I noticed that the fuel gauge was reading full. So the first tank was already paid for. Cool. After getting my bearings and figuring out exactly where I was, which was extremely difficult since neither Area 51, 52, or 53 show up on any maps, I headed for the main road. And I was on my way.

I did sign a non-disclosure agreement that said I would not disclose the location of where I was held so I can’t really tell you exactly where it is but I doubt you would really want to visit them there anyway. Too much poking and prodding for my tastes.

So after I finish getting my hours caught up, since apparently I was on the clock the whole time I was incarcerated, I will be heading home. I’ll try to share some of the things that I see as I head home. As I look back over this I think, man, this looks like it might have been made up or something. Except if that were the case I would probably have a whole lot more excitement in the story. Well, we’ll see.

Quickly part 2

I'm back. the guards came.

Where was I? Bright star. Right. Or Right? heh heh.

I see this bright star in front of me and after a while it actually appears to be getting brighter. Must be a plane or something. I keep my eyes on it. It's definitley getting brighter. not a lot bigger but brighter still.

Now it looks like a bright ball. A lamp light. And then there's this big slam in my trailer. The back of my trailer jumped in the air and scared the crap out of me. Not literally, thank goodness. Nobody else on the road behind me so I hit the shoulder as fast as I can. Which is pretty fast since my rear end is now dragging the ground. (I know, I know). I mean the rear end of my trailer.

I get to the back of the trailer and there is a huge hole in the back door about the size of a basketball. Edges all burnt up and twisted so that it looks as though something burst out from the inside of my trailer. I wrench the doors open and near the front of my trailer there is a similar hole in the roof. I only have two windows in the truck and they're at the front so they are undamaged but the metal is glowing hot and there is a small trail of something burning on the floor of the trailer.

I run back to the front of the truck, disconnect the air and electrical lines, drop the landing gear, pull the king pin, and yank the tractor away from the trailer. I get about fifty yards away and then come back to the trailer. No sense burning up the tractor, right? heh heh.

I dial 911.

"911, what is your emergency?"

"I think my truck was just hit by a meteor or something. Or would that be a meteorite?"

"What's the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?"

"Actually, I'm not sure. Does it matter at this point? My trailer is burning."

"No, I guess it doesn't really matter. What is your location?"

"I-70 westbound. Mile marker 81. About 20 miles west of Effingham."

"Ok, we will have someone there shortly. Is anyone injured?"

"Not unless someone was riding the meteor. If they were then thy're probably beyond hope"

"Did you find the meteor?......or meteorite?"

"No, and let's just stick with meteor for now until we hear otherwise. It's easier to type."


"Never mind. I'll go look for the thing."

I get back down the road and about a 1/4 mile back I find a big furrow in the shoulder of the road ending in a hole in the ground. Asphalt has been blown everywhere and the hole looks pretty deep.

"What do you see?" It's the lady from 911.

"I'm not sure. I can see pretty far down in the hole and it looks li

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I musgt type quick. no worries about speelcheck. changing of the guards and they don't know I snuck my laptop in here. it's amazing what you can hide on you when you are determined.

As far as I know I am somewhere in the Nevada desert in a military base. At least I think they are military. And I think it's nevada. Could be Jersey. Smells like sage not garbage, so it's probbally not jersey. Not sure. If I quit in the middle of this the gaurds came back.

It's been a long couple days. But i'll try to fill you in.

I was on my way towards St louis last night, Ithink it was last night. Anyway, I had been running in and out of rain and every nopw and then I would see a break in the clouds and the stars would peak through. I'm not an astronomer but I like to watch the stars when I am away from the city.

Everty now and then I will see an extremely bright star and wonder which palnet it is. So the clouds broke and the stars were shining through and there was this really bright one directly in fron t opf me. As I watched it seemed

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm sorry

Just another day in the big rig.

Well, almost.

I had had ENOUGH! Ever have one of those days? Apparently I owe an apology (kinda sorta) to a four-wheeler driver in Chicago.

As a big truck driver one of the realities of your job is that you deal with being cut off all day every day. It’s a fact of life. Often it doesn’t really bother me anymore. Some drivers fight back, I know you’ve seen them, blocking lanes to keep the four-wheeler from running up the shoulder and cutting in. Why is this an appropriate action when we wouldn’t think of cutting in front of people in the grocery store check-out? I move slower, it’s a fact of life, and my truck does as well. Fully loaded I weigh 20 times what the average mini van weighs. You can get that off the line in a hurry.

Anyway, I had had enough, as I said. Long day driving to and around Chicago, folks cutting in and out, bumper to bumper traffic, and I was running a later than I wanted so I changed my route and ended up on a road I don’t normally travel.

Get this picture. Sign says right lane closed. I move to the center 2 miles early. No sense fighting. Got an exit I need coming up in 2 ½ miles. I figure the exit is after the lane closure. Get close. Right lane is closed but not the right lane that I was in. It was the right lane that was added when traffic merged from another road. So now I am one lane further left than I need to be and the exit traffic is slowing down to get off and I’m stuck. I signal right, slow down, try to find a hole to fit in, not easy when you’re 80 feet long in bumper to bumper traffic. No one is letting me in. So I did something I never do. If figure “run it on up to the exit and just cut in front of everyone like all the four wheelers do. Sorry, I had had enough, remember?

So I did just that and lo and behold I found an opening right at the exit I could squeeze into. The car didn’t see me coming and had backed off so I had room. I hit the exit, (turn signal on all the way up the row) and he finally saw me wanting in. No way, buddy. You’re not getting in front of me, and so he speeds up to keep me out. Bad move. On his part and on my part. I should have gone on down the road, found another exit and came back. But I had…well, you know. So I just kept on coming. His choices; 1) back off and let me in, 2) stay in his lane and hope that I will not roll over top of him, 3) duck between the orange barrels and get out of that lane, 4) shoot out the tires of my truck.
He chose option #3.

He was not happy with his choice.

Neither was I.

At that exact moment I was sort of hoping for him to choose #2 but about 3 miles down the road I started feeling bad about what I had done. That’s not like me. I’m not an aggressive driver. Usually I’m a really “go with the flow” kind of guy. Just a bad day. But it reminded me that there are a lot of things about driving a big rig that the general public has no knowledge of. And everybody can have a bad day. They don’t understand why we do the things we do sometimes.

Do you wonder sometimes why we do what we do? It’s discussion time.

And to that fellow in Chicago, I’m sorry. Dinner’s on me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Some random thoughts I have come across

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

If you had a friend who was a tightrope walker, and you were walking down a sidewalk, and he fell, that would be completely unacceptable...

I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality.

When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmm, boy.

Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition

Broken promises don`t upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?

If I could be a bird, I think I'd be a penguin, because then I could walk around on two feet with a lot of other guys like me.

Higher beings from outer space may not want to tell us the secrets of life, because we're not ready. But maybe they'll change their tune after a little torture.


I have determined that the favorite word of a seven year old is “right?” Yes, with the question mark (?) included. The question mark must be included with the word for it to have a proper place in a seven year olds lexicon. I see you asking why. Why is “right?” such an all-important word to a seven year old? Let me give you some examples.
“The concrete (actually it was blacktop) is warm on my feet, right?”
“If I step in the dog poop that would be gross, right?”
“I can clean my own room, right?” (This one being answered in the negative, actually. At least that is the appearance of things.)
“I once puked through my mouth and my nose, right?”
I have often wondered why kids ask this question when it is actually more of a statement. (See last example.) How should I know if puke came out both his mouth and his nose? Yes, it has happened to me, and the memory of it is not a pleasant one. But that was many moons ago and I doubt my seven year old has been stealing bottles of Old Grandad Whisky. I certainly don’t keep them around anymore. Man, that was one bad ski trip.
Anyway, let’s get back to subject at hand. The word “right?”.
Well, actually, there’s not much more to say on the matter. I guess I was just making an observation. Preston has a tendency to use this word in his sentences as though he were replacing the period with it.
I guess I can deal with “Right?” easier than I can deal with “Snap!” That one just bugs the snot out of me.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Learning experiences

What a week! Isaac is not doing so good in school, mostly because he doesn’t want to do his homework, Hana has been having a hard week with one of her co-workers/supervisor, and Ben, well, Ben just comes and goes and does his thing. I guess he is the consistency in the house. Then the fridge decides it’s just had enough! I mean, come on, 23 years of keeping milk, cheese, and fruit cool; ice cubes, popsicles and ice cream frozen is enough right. Time to retire. Time to give it up. Time to let the ice cream and the popsicles melt all over the kitchen floor. All over the old ratty rug in the back bump-out to the kitchen and ruin the carpet which necessitates having to pull it out and replace it with something less absorbent, like maybe granite or slate. Insert homeowners tip here: Do not put rugs in kitchen, especially kitchens that have old appliances and cat and/or dog litter boxes in them. Just a thought.

One thing learned this week: cats are very good about getting it all in the litter box. Dogs, and I refer only to the ones who have any inclination at all to use a litter box, well, not so good. Dogs like to stand with the front feet in and back feet out and aim and some dogs are not such great shots. Hence another reason the rug needed replacing.

Another thing learned this week: Kitchen counters do not have an infinite amount of space to hold the contents of the Starship Enterprise. There is no magical quality about kitchen counters that allows them to receive and to store in another dimension any item placed upon them and then, at some later date, regurgitate said item when a necessity for it’s use arises. For example; a four foot long counter which is approximately two feet deep can not hold much more than a microwave, coffee maker, dehydrator, toaster, can opener, television, two unopened loaves of bread, sixteen open and partially consumed loaves of bread, one box of Fruity O’s, three packages of bagels, a wire chicken , a pair of roller blades, an eight track player, a half eaten can of baked beans (pork bits added), a bunch of bananas, a small crate that once held Clementine tangerines, two pictures of assorted family members and the accompanying frames, and a full scale model of the Millennium Falcon (shuttle transporter and all 28,396 accompanying parts, pieces and action figures included). Something has got to go!

And one more educational experience for the week. This reminds me of Mom’s blog written a few weeks ago. You can go there later and see what she had to say.
Ok, so you went ahead and went there now.
I see how you are.
Well, just forget it. I’m not going to talk to you if you can’t pay attention and stick with me here and have to be running off to every hyperlink thrown into a blog.
No, that’s ok, just go on about your merry life and do things your way. I’ll just sit here patiently and wait until you are done.

(Jeopardy Music playing here)

Ok, are we back now?! Fine!

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I had another learning experience this week. A little set-up here. Most truck stops have a section of their restaurants set up for professional drivers to sit apart from the general public. Not that we think we are better than others but we talk shop and smoke a lot and it’s usually one or two guys or gals by themselves so there are large counters (which would work VERY well in my kitchen) or small booths. These areas are often labeled “For Professional Drivers”. It was at one of these particular counters that I sat last Tuesday evening eating my supper and waiting for the clock to roll around to 8:30 so that I could head down to Woodstock, IL and pick up my load of Sports Illustrated to come home with. I had just returned from my trip to the buffet with a plate of brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, and a very small dollop of green beans when I noticed an elderly woman, at first glance she appeared to be in her late 70’s, slowly making her way into the drivers area. She walked with a cane and her movements reminded me of that old Tim Conway skit where he walks with slow mincing steps. She looked quite lost, glancing around as if unsure of her surroundings, but she resolutely moved forward into this strange foreign land of large and gamy men. There were very few open seats in this area, this being the prime hour for drivers coming in off the road, and one of those empties was immediately to my right. I watched as she slowly made her way across the room and headed directly toward the aforementioned empty seat on my right. It was with much bumping and jostling that she settled her self down and giving me a very apologetic smile, she said “Hello, young man,” and hung her cane on the back of my chair.

She settled herself in her seat and when the waitress came by she ordered a small glass of water with lemon and a bowl of vegetable soup. “That’ll be all, thank you so much.”

She then turned her conversation to me.

Holding out her small, frail hand for me to grasp, she said, “Hi there. My name is Esther Whitaker. I’m not from around here. Just up here from Tick Ridge, Georgia visiting my sister in Waukesha who’s having surgery to remove this very unseemly goiter from her neck. Her husbands’ not much help to her so I thought I’d come up and give her a hand while she recuperates.”

I told her I thought that was very sweet of her and that I hope her stay was a pleasant one. I told her I was a truck driver and that I was from Ohio, just passing through, came this way every other week, waiting to go home, all that sort of stuff.

The small talk continued for several minutes and then her soup arrived. She asked the waitress if she could spare a few crackers to go with her soup and when they arrived she very daintily picked up her spoon and began to quietly and slowly sip her soup. I, meanwhile, had returned to the buffet for plate number two, this time returning with Sausage and cabbage, Macaroni and Cheese and some green beans with bacon.

As I sat down I noticed that she seemed to be sitting a smidge closer to my chair than she had been previously. The counter chairs were bolted to the floor and I really couldn’t move to give her more room so I just sort of scooted left a little in my seat. This also alleviated the pressure from her cane digging into my back some.

I finished my second plate as I listened to her tell me all about her children (who didn’t come visit anymore) and her late husband (who was a bookkeeper for a large Georgia peach farm and generally a boring man but was okay when it came to “personal marital abilities”) and her sister (who didn’t keep a very clean house) and her brother (who had served a three year prison sentence in Georgia for “borrowing things that didn’t belong to him”).

It was in the middle of her story about her brother that I realized that her hand was on my leg. I figured it was nothing really serious, just a little old lady who was a little out of touch with reality but I scooted a little left in my chair anyway, in order to give her more room. Halfway through her discussion of her nieces and nephews and their various failings I noticed that she appeared to be squeezing my leg a little tighter every so often, almost as if she were trying to keep herself from falling out of her chair. I tried to look at her and see if I could see something in her face that indicated what she was up to but her face was quite innocent and chaste. When her hand began to move higher up my leg I excused myself and went back to the buffet and picked up a piece of chocolate cake as I tried to ponder this predicament that I was in. Was this little old lady coming on to me? It sure seemed like it, but that was absurd! She had to be close to 80! Now I don’t consider myself an ugly man but I’m no Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Peewee Herman by any stretch of the imagination.

I sat back down and began to pick at my cake and her hand went right back to my leg. I dropped my fork, looked her right in the face and said, “Are you okay?” Which was the only thing I could think of to say. Quick on my feet, I am not.

“I’m fine”, She said, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, I was just wondering since you’ve been sitting here for the last 10 minutes with your hand on my leg”, I said.

“Does that bother you?” she said and it was at this point that I saw the glimmer. The corners of her mouth started to lift a little and her eyes got bright and she said, “You are a fairly handsome man, you know. And I like to think of myself as a fairly pretty woman. I know that I may be a couple years older than you but I’m here from out of town and I don’t know anyone around here and Harold has been gone for quite a few years and I just get so lonely. I’m sure you know how it is being out here on the road like you are, traveling these highways, driving those big, manly trucks, moving those big loads around our great country. You do such a very important job.” All the while she was moving closer and closer. “Besides, I’m single since Harold passed on three years ago, God rest his soul, and I see by your ring finger that you’re single as well and we are both consenting adults…so…” and she let it hang, right there in midair.

“But I’m not single,” I said. “I’m married and have been for 23 years and I have four children.”

Her face faltered for a moment and I saw her struggle with her determination to continue and she asked, “Why then, young man, are you not wearing a wedding band?”

“I lost it on a hay ride with my wife about 15 years ago and we just never got around to replacing it,” I said. By the look on her face I really felt that I should add an apology to that statement. But I didn’t.

“I see,” she said. “Well, I guess that changes everything, now doesn’t it?”

“I guess it does,” I said. “But I’d like to say thank you. I am very flattered.”

She slowly gathered herself together and stood as straight as she could, determined to gather her dignity around her, and said, “Well…you should be.” And then with a shy smile and a twinkle in her eye she said, “You are a very handsome man. Not a Spencer Tracy, but very handsome still.”

“Thank you,” I said as she started away.

She was about six steps away when she turned and said, “Go get a ring, young man. Save the ladies some trouble.”

I sat there for another few minutes before picking up my check and my book and headed out through the main area of the restaurant still shaking my head over my encounter. I stood at the cashier counter paying my bill when I hear a slight small voice from a booth over in the corner.
“ Hello there, my name is Esther Whitaker.”

I turned and could just see a sliver of silver blue over the seat back and across from her a fellow who looked to be about 30. I smiled to myself as I headed out to my truck and on to Woodstock. I guess I’ll buy a ring when I get home.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A sigh of relief.

Are you like me?

Do you compare yourself and your home to other people?

I have fussed at my wife for this very thing a great number of times. She will visit someone and say that their house is so beautiful and why can't our house look like that? Never mind the fact that they may have an income that is triple what ours is and they hire people to do their landscaping and decorating. Never mind that they have no children and spend all their money on art, furnishings and knick-knacks, where as we have an average of 1423 kids, some of which even belong to us, coming through our door everyday for this that or the other thing.

We have bikes in the front yard and toys all over the living room.

The top of the TV is covered with games that are played with regularity, movies that were watched and not put away, movies that were rented and either not returned yet or not watched yet, remotes that work and some that don't.

The kitchen has dishes that have not been washed yet and bread that can't find a place to live. We have limited counter space so that the microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, and medicine box are all constantly vying for position.

The computer desk is covered with printed papers that seemed so important at the time and yet they sit here for days gathering dust waiting to be discovered by the next generation of archaeologists. (Wouldn't that be a great scoring word in Scrabble?)

As I sit here, these are the things that are on the computer desk: Besides the computer monitor, tower, printer and mouse, we have a stereo with accompanying speakers, three open stacks of Cd's to burn, a Game Boy, nail clippers, a hair tie, Cd's from the library, Cd's from our own collection, a dog collar, two candles (one of which has about 2 mm of wax left in the bottom), a greeting card, an empty Welches Grape Soda bottle, two empty Diet Pepsi cans, the hook half of a hook and eye latch, a paper towel, a cook book with "365 Favorite Brand Name Casseroles & One Dish Meals", bank statements (which reminds me), tax forms (which reminds me again) student loan paperwork, a permanent marker, the remote to the stereo, the remote to a DVD player that doesn't work any more, the instruction manual for an eight track player (just kidding), and a coffee cup (travel size from Pilot).

And this desk was just cleaned off yesterday morning. Or at least that was the instructions I left with the two oldest "not yet supporting themselves" residents of this abode.

Which brings me back around to my original question of this post.

Do you compare yourself with other people and their homes?

I have and still do and so it is with great thanks and a large sigh of relief that I send a Veritable Monster of an "Atta-Girl" to Ann. Your post, Ann, regarding Working in Balance has freed me from my insecurities and my need to conform to the world's view of style. After seeing the pics of her computer desk I am very relieved that I alone am not fighting the war on clutter.

I no longer feel that everything in my home has to be just so and always in it's place. I do not have to have a table completely clear of everything except that precious antique bowl I found at that quaint antique store run by that cute antique woman in Woonsocket, Connecticut, which is filled with fresh fruit (the bowl, not Woonsocket, Connecticut) that my children and I picked at the Amish farm down the road on a family gathering.

My bed does not always have to be made within 30 seconds of me vacating said bed. (Besides, my wife is usually still in said bed.)

The dishes can sometimes wait until morning.

As long as I can reach the keyboard, the computer desk will still work with some extra clutter on it.

But the garbage and the dogs have to go out NOW!

Thank you, Ann. thank you very much.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


We should all help each other like this guy.

You got neighbors like this?

The Rest? Room

Amid the recent news regarding Senator Larry Craig of Idaho and his restroom adventures at the Minneapolis Airport I thought I might share with you all some of a truck drivers adventures with rest rooms. I promise not to get gross.

You know how when you go into your favorite grocery store and the milk is right where it always is and the meat is right there where you left it last time? And even if you happen to visit that same type store in another city you can count on the milk and the meat being in the same place...usually.

And lets say you are a shopper of the Wally World and you need the rest room. It's always right there in the front of the store near the optical center and the cash registers.

Well, truck stops are the same way. If you go into a Pilot or a Flying J you can usually count on the coffee, sodas, or the rest rooms being in the same place. Usually.

I know. You can probably see where this is going.

In the beautiful town of Terre Haute, IN is a Pilot truck truck stop. Just far enough west of Indianapolis for that soda to being making it's way out of one's system. And so since I was in need of fuel on this particular day anyway, I figured a quick swing into Pilot, empty one tank and fill another.

Inside, back wall, in a rush, Men on the left and Women on the right. In a rush. Wow! This men's room has a big bright mirror with bright lights all around it. Guess it's a new type of shaving area. Except there are no sinks there. Can't stop. Must go. Where are the urinals? Can't find them. No time to think. Get in the stall. Lift the lid. Unzip...Ahhhhh. Much better.

Flush. Wash hands. Dry hands. Leisurely walk out. Pass woman entering the door I just left. Why is she going in the Men's room. Turn around. Oh...I see.

Guess I'll fuel at the next stop.

In Terre Haute, IN be aware. The men's room is on the right and the women's is on the left. Take my word for it. Not like every other Pilot I've been in, but that's ok. Life goes on. But it sure was a pretty Women's room. Ya'll got it nice. And yes, I did put the lid back down.

Ohio rest area. South bound on I-71. No particular hurry. Just need to stop and "see a man about a dog". So I'm sitting there playing Yahtzee on my phone taking care of business and the stall door next to me opens and closes. I hear the usual noises associated with this type of rest room activity.

And then I here "Hi, how ya doing?"

Now I usually don't carry on conversations with people in the next stall, and if you're wondering why just ask a senator from Idaho. But I don't want to be rude so I answer. "I'm fine. How are you?"

"Doing good, What are you up to today?"

I figured that it was probably fairly obvious what I was up to at that very moment so I assumed that he meant what was I doing for the day overall.

"Just heading to Cincinnati and then on to St Louis."

And then...

"Let me call you back. I'm in the rest area and the guy in the next stall keeps talking to me."

People really shouldn't use cell phones in the rest room.


And lastly...

It was several months later that I began to remind myself that highway rest areas have become known hang outs for men seeking homosexual activities and so I decided to be a little more aware of the fact.

I-96 heading west at Howell, MI, rest area. I've seen guys hanging around there as if they are looking for something or someone but I go about my business and ignore them.

Again, in the reading room, Scrabble this time on the phone, trying to figure out what to do with the Q and the X and I notice the "signal" next door. the foot is tapping away.

I ignore it. It keeps tapping. I keep ignoring. Tap. Ignore. Tap. Ignore. Taptap. Ignoreignore.

The foot stops tapping. Guess he got the signal. I'm not interested.

Then comes a knock on the wall and I quiet, "Hey, can you help me out?" accompanied by a hand under the wall.

"Look," I say. "If you want to participate in that sort of activity that's your business. But all I'm trying to do over here is use this little stall for what it was made for and try to figure out where to put Q and X, preferably in a double word spot. So will you just leave me alone?"


And then...

"Uhm...I'm out of paper over here....that's all."


"'s's a lot...sorry...i just know...what was the foot tapping all about?"

Sheepish. "Mp3 player."



When you're in the rest room, either turn it down or don't tap your foot.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Recipe

Since my wife has been down for a while the shopping and cooking has fallen to me. So I thought I'd cook a ham again. It's been a while. I usually wrap one in aluminum foil and then pour either 7up or Sprite over the ham and cook it like that.

I bought a good ham on sale last Saturday but forgot the soda. All I had in the fridge that might have worked was a bottle of Jose Cuervo margaritas. I thought what the heck. Give it a shot. Can't hurt.

FYI: A ham soaked in margaritas and then cooked is extremely tender but also has a surprisingly tart lime taste to it. I never thought about that as I was pouring the bottle. It was actually pretty good.

Try it. You'll like it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It appears that I am becoming a "once a weeker". Blogging I mean. But since this is supposed to be a stress reliever for me then I shall not worry about it. Cause I'm talented, I'm good-looking, and darn-it, people like me.

Sheila is doing much better. She had a visit with the surgeon this morning and I really, seriously, honestly thought she was going to hit him. Her arm was coming back for the wind up when some past parental guidance kicked in apparently.

He was explaining to her the angles that he said her knee should be able to reach. He was explaining this by grabbing her knee and bending it to where he wanted it. He told her it's ok to scream and cry, you won't hurt the knee. From the look on her face it hurt like hell.

After getting some blood drawn I took her out to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch. Her first outing in two weeks. It was nice, just the two of us. She had some Ruby Mini's (mini burgers) and I had the Smokehouse burger. I'm on a diet so I only had one Smokehouse burger and some fries. Well, we did get some Wisconsin Cheddar Fries as an appetizer, but I kept the desert down to just one order of Strawberry Cheesecake, Ice cream and a Fudge Brownie Chaser.

I went grocery shopping saturday. Either I'm way too picky or...well, I'm way too picky. I was in that store for four hours. I just can't bring myself to pay more than $2 a pound for meat. It drives me nuts. Overall I did good. And after I got home and took some Valium everything was fine.

Preston went to see the Lion King on Saturday at the theater, or theatre, depending on where you're from, and apparently he had a good time. I asked him how he liked it and he said it was ok except that they had real people as actors instead of animals. What a bummer.

Tuesday morning we were expecting Noah to come back. 6 inches of rain in about 5 hours. It was really coming down. My brother-in-law's car was flooded out at the post office while he worked. A total loss. Water over the roof of a Saturn. the shut down the post office when water started rising OVER the loading docks. That's about 4 feet, folks. That was in Mansfield. Findlay, which is in Hancock county went under a level 3 emergency meaning if you were on the road and you were not a member of an emergency crew, you could be arrested.

Galion, where we live, didn't do too bad. A lot of water for about half the day but by 3 in the afternoon it was mostly gone. Here are some during and after pictures from my neighborhood.

This is between my neighbors house across the street
During the flood.
After the Flood

Closer look at ball field behind neighbors house. During

From the corner. My house is right behind me. During.
Down the street facing west. The road bends and follows the creek.
My house is elevated across the street. We had about an inch of water in our basement which is what we normally get in a heavy rain. My neighbor across the street had water chest deep in his basement. I couldn't believe how fast it was gone.