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.