Friday, December 08, 2006

More Age Defining Events

First things first. I had a great Thanksgiving this year. Not only did the turkey and stuffing come out great, but I got some fantastic news! My little sister is gonna get remarried and move out of my folk's house. Yes indeedydoodahday, this is fabulous news. They can start enjoying their retirement again.

This lovely photo of my little grand niece demonstrates my excitement exactly:

By the way, don't tell anyone, it's 'post to be a secret!

OK, on to the second age defining event of the year. My little brother retired from the Navy after 20 years of service. How did that happen? Weren't we just pushing each other down the stairs, pulling each other's hair out, slapping each other around?

It was a great ceremony that they put on. I guess the Navy has the market on valuing it's members. All the folks paying tribute to my brother were warm in speech and kind in words. Helps that he deserves it, of course.

But, I'm still too young to have a brother, much less a little brother, retiring from anything.

Oh, and another of my nieces turned 18. Happy birthay sweetie, it was good to see you. I'll always cherish your phone call on Thanksgiving with the bestest news of the year!

But I'm too young to have 6 neices and nephews that legally qualify as adults. Too young, I tell you!

But alas, I also have a new grand nephew. Fertile bunch, we!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Scary but true

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
North Central
The West
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm still here

Working too much, traveling too much. Here's some random stuff.

Saw a hummingbird poop this month. As you might guess, it was little and it was quick. The things you learn when you have bird feeders in your backyard.

I owe my best friend from childhood an email explaining how to do some stuff on Blogger - feeling guilty, will get to her email and reply, see first sentence of this post.

A friend of ours went crazy recently and we've had to make one of those hard choices I talked about way back earlier this year. He's become "the star of his own show", so to speak and is moving away anyway. Sad, but we're moving on already, life is too short to linger on this kind of stuff.

Mandevillas are growing up the line I ran from the house to the railing on the deck. These are some amazing flowers! The vines must be over 50 feet to have made it that far, in their twisting and twining way. Pink and white are definitely the way to go with these things. The gecko's have set up house in there somewhere, and that drives Copper bonkers when he gets a glimpse. Definitely a spaniel!

Loaded Sonnet's wedding pictures to the internet printer - now I just have to select and send. One step at a time.

Baked two pies on Sunday. Threw them away. Salt is important to pie crust! Don't put in too little - 1.5 teaspoons won't cut it when the recipe calls for 1.5 Tablespoons. Before you get all "eww that's too much salt" on me, the recipe is for four crusts. Baked two pies on Monday. Had two "best apple pie I ever tasted" quotes by the end of the week. Yes, I bake a mean apple pie. At least when I remember to put the right amount of salt in the crust. You want the secret to the best apple pie in the world? Use four kinds of apples. That way, you are sure to get some that taste good and some that have good texture.

Been digging in the dirt regularly too. This is our fifth summer in the Atlanta area. Anyone need some crocosmia bulbs? Yikes these things multiplied. I mean, they look pretty when they bloom and all, but I don't need 600 of them. Oh well, most folks complain that they can't get things to grow so I'll just share them around the neighborhood.

By the way, you know what planting fall bulbs really is?

Planting promises for spring.

Posting again sooner, I promise.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Age defining events

This past weekend, I attended my niece's wedding.

Now, there's a sentence that'll cause you to see if there are more gray hairs than yesterday.

Actually, it was a really great weekend. I got to help my sister finish the cake (I mostly decorated). We spend two days in her dining room covered in confectioner's sugar and stressing out about how the thing would look. Both of us are bakers and have made thousands of cakes, but when it's your daughter/niece it takes on a whole new spin. By the time we were done, we had a cake that probably would have fed 400 people - 150 attended - that weighed about 75LBS. I ate a couple of cups of frosting during the process. Sometimes when it's on your hand, and it needs to be free, well, you know. Anyway, I may have been a little more hyper than usual.

My eldest sister Clare (who's been gone for almost 6 years, I can't believe it), her kids were mostly there. I discovered that one of them couldn't come because he and his wife have a baby due in a couple of weeks. My family is NOTORIOUS for not sharing news. Anyway, it was great to catch up with the ones that did come. I had Caleb and Jake trapped in the car with me for more than an hour and we had a great conversation. We covered lots of things that we'd never been able to with the normal hubub around us. Caleb has really become a good man - without losing his child like nature. Jacob has also matured into a good guy, with his head securely fastened to his shoulders. Considering his mom died when he was at the height of teenagerhood, this is an amazing feat. His mind is always working, looking to find the humor in everything. It makes me feel good to see what I look for in myself in these two fellas.

Sonnet - the lovely bride, now she's really become a sensible, likeable, intelligent, crass, good lookin gal. This was her day, and it came off quite well. She looked great. Her bridesmaids had lovely, simple dresses that looked good on them! That never happens. I helped them in their final moments of stress, making sure that hair, makeup, dresses were properly "tweaked". We did a final bugger check, I told them to stand up straight, and not to lock their knees. My final word of advice was sage, "if you have to vomit, for heaven's sake, don't spew on any of the bridal party!"

My sister Sue, the bride's mother was on high alert. I am proud to say that, on more than one occasion, I was able to talk her down from the very high branch she was clinging to. She wanted this wedding to be wonderful for her daughter. It was.

There is a moment that only comes every so often in a person's life. It is a moment of joy, accomplishment and fulfilment. Everything comes together and you can hear the fourth note of the cord, even if someone isn't singing it. Sometimes this moment comes with a bit of wistfulness. In this case, all that was missing was Clare. She would have loved this day.

I think I caught this very moment on camera with Sue. I believe that this is the most beautiful picture of her - it makes me well up inside.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I like all animals. They each have their niche in a grand global scheme. That being said, I also think hunting is OK (although dreadfully boring to me).

BUT - wild animals do not belong in your home. Do not, do not, do not! This realization came upon us this past weekend. I know, this should be an innate kind of knowledge, but until you've experienced it, you aren't really aware.

We live in a subdivision happily nestled in the woods. The builder took great care to save as many trees as possible when constructing the houses. Our back yard is the forest. I am very generous with the birds, giving them all sorts of different seeds and treats and suet. Of course, along with birds you get squirrels and chipmunks. I'm not adverse to feeding them as well as the birds as long as they don't hog everything. And, they really don't. On the plus side, they are a delight for Copper, our Cavalier, to chase and worry at.

Now for the minus side. We have a many gabled roof on our house. This means that there are lots of "access points" that a small creature, if looking for warmth can enter. It got cold this weekend - quite cold for Atlanta in late March. So, one of the cuddly, well fed squirrels sought out some warmth in our attic. Once inside, he promptly fell down inside one of our walls. Of course, this wall is part of our master bedroom.

We thought that the squirrel was just being noisy scratching around as he did. Eventually we thought he might have gone outside since it warmed up during the day, and the scratching quieted down. So we went about our business. We got up, and went into our office to check email. We had lost our internet connection. So, we went through the usual routine of booting and rebooting all the apparatus - nothing. The next step is always to wait an hour because calling the ISP is like entering an early vision of limbo, waiting and prompting and waiting and prompting. After the requisite hour, we tried the booting again - still nothing. At the same time as we were booting, we began hearing the scratching again. Now I was getting a little stressed. I went into the bedroom that has another computer and, like magic, it was able to connect to the internet! Although nice, this stressed me out some more as I was beginning to deduce that we had a problem that had nothing to do with our ISP.

So, into the attic I went. Didn't see the squirrel. Went back down into the office and banged on the wall. "Squeak, squeak!" came the response. Went back into the attic, armed with a flashlight and began searching in earnest. Lo and behold, there the rascal was, 10 feet down from the floor of the attic, trapped in a wall cavity, with the cable attached to our computer dangling in the air, torn in two. The turkey buzzard had chewed through it in his unsuccessful attempts at escape.

What to do? Didn't want the little bugger to die in the wall, Lord only knows how that would smell. First attempt, put a 1x2 in the wall cavity in hopes that the not so bright passenger would climb out. Nada. Second attempt, a brilliant one I might add: Dangle a dock line down into the cavity so the natural climber could shimmy on up and out. After getting the rope in there, we left and went shopping - always the best thing to do in a stressful emergency. Three hours later we returned and, voila! Gone! See ya! Tootles!

No more squirrel in the house. I'm pretty sure he won't be back. But just in case were going to do something about those access points. I really don't relish the aspect of staying awake all night to "scratch scratch scratch" and "squeak squeak".

Moral of the story? If you want to get wireless internet access going in your house, rent a squirrel.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring, again

pin oaks wearing
tiny bits of torn chartruse yarn
dianthus reaching
pale green pincushions of promise
gerbera pushing
one tiny leaf
redbuds haunting
painting the woods with pink smoke
dogwood holding
tight fisted buds at ready
iris spiking
swords reaching and swelling and hoping
narcissus sighing
already fading to paper

this is how
i see

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Center of the Universe

Had to travel to the center of the universe this week. Headquarters. Somewhere in the hinterlands of Ohio.

Oh, and back to winter, it seems. I feel as though I have drifted (pun intended) back in time to the dead of January. I miss my daffodils looking already tawdry and faded, my cherry tree in full glory, the hydrangea looking like strange twiggy beasts with heads of tiny cabbage all about.

It has been quite an adventure, however. Last Saturday I appear to have caught myself some good old food poisoning. Sunday is a blur of ceramic tile, intermittent naps, and short panicked dashes. I was supposed to have my final (ha ha) root canal on Monday, fortunately Clif prevailed upon me to cancel that. As it turns out, this was a very good decision as there were several of those short panicked dashes that I mentioned earlier, that morning. But, important meetings being what they are, I was determined to travel Monday evening. I felt better, but still had some anxiety about spending an hour in the car - I am proud to say that I kept my nether regions in control and made it there with time to spare. Got on the airplane, no problem. Started to feel a little bit "urgent" right after take off, but simmered down quickly thereafter. I fell asleep in my seat, but awoke with a start and an "oh my"....time for a short panicked dash. The plane I was on was very small, therefore a "one holer". The fasten seat-belt sign was on. Definitely a recipe for disaster, in my book. I got the flight attendant's attention and briefly described my predicament (delicately, I'll add, my mother didn't raise no ruffians) at which point she simply said, "Go, it's in the back." Sensible woman. With some trepidation, I stood and turned to the back of the plane, fully suspecting the entire pathway to be stuffed with passengers waiting to potty. Instead, I was greeted with the unbelievably beautiful site of a dull, back lit sign stating "Unoccupied". As you can imagine, I am easily entertained. Anyway, I walked purposefully, quickly, and with some vigor, down the aisle. I won't go into the gory details from there. Suffices to say that the captain came over the speaker during my short incarceration and announced that, indeed, we had begun our initial decent into Cleveland. Oh, this is just after I was almost tossed from my temporary seat onto the floor as he decelerated.

I was tired when I got to my hotel room. Very tired. I did make a good decision, however. My meetings went well, decisions were made, plans were drawn up, and some folks were even impressed.

Yikes, I'm done with the weather here though. Going home in the morning. Back to the husband and dog - the reason I do all this silly stuff.

Peace out - I'm off to bed.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Art of Embarrassment

OK, I've done something again.

My mother has always claimed that I must be a genius at something because I was the most absent minded person she'd ever met. Well, she's definitely right on the second point.

Two years ago my nephew married a very nice girl, Kassi. Here's a picture of their wedding:

Kind of a nice candid shot, no? Anyway, it was a great wedding. I took a bunch of photos that I finally had printed for them after two years.

Found out yesterday that I sent them to the wrong address. After all that. The two years old since we moved address. Yeah, I'm that guy.

Oh well, thanks to modern technology, if the post office decides not to forward them, I can have them reprinted and sent. But still. Yikes. Certainly my most embarrassing moment this year.

Maybe I should have them printed and sent to me, instead. That way, when they, someday, finally come and visit, I can hand the pictures to them. Sorry Kassi, had to throw a little guilt in there!

Monday will tell. Everyone think positive thoughts and hope I'm on the positive Karma side and the pictures will show up.

Peace out dudes and dudettes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm braggin' again

I love Georgia. The seasons come and go on time.

So, it's narcissus blogging! This one opened today in my back yard. Spring is here, all y'all!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's official in Georgia

tonight I walked the dog in the rain
I heard
at first
bells in the distance
a hint
then nothing
then more
then again gone
round the corner I came
and a crescendo of music rolled
until nothing else could be heard
but the chirps beeps and trills
of what seemed a million
Spring is here
my friends


Well, it's done. All four wisdom teeth - gone. So far I haven't had any pain, but we'll see as the extra strength jaw numbing drugs wear off. Don't yet look like a chipmunk either, although the Dr says that swelling may not happen for a couple of days. Just in time, I'm sure, for my presentation next week.

I can just see it. Nice gray three button suit, blue shirt, cool purple tie. Shoes so shiny they make your eyes hurt. And then the introduction: "Our next presenter is Carl. Please don't make fun of his unusually large looking head, he just had some oral surgery. If you feel the need to laugh, please exit the room so you do not distract from the presentation."

Oh yeah, I'm already prepared.

Still, probably will be too afraid to look in my mouth for a few days. I can take the pain and swelling. Looking? I'm chicken.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


My mouth has gotten me into trouble again!

However, this time it has nothing to do with being blunt, outspoken, truthful or otherwise obnoxious. Proud to be these things, I am.

Regardless, my calendar looks something like this.

December 29, get teeth cleaned. January 27 get root canal. February 14 get two fillings and temporary crown. February 21? Get four wisdom teeth "extracted". Found out today that the bottom ones, due to their weird entry into my mouth - they actually are laying on their side attached to the vertical part of my jaw - have to be cut up and taken out in pieces.

Yes, young jedi, they are putting me out. Vat, you tink I crazy or someting?

Anyway, bad mouth, bad! But then, I go back March 7 and get my permanent crown. They tell me it will match my other teeth perfectly, much better than the temporary one. Sheesh, I thought I was picky about color. If you could look into my mouth, a feat reserved for a special few, you would be quite hard pressed to figure out which was the "falsy". This is way more than you can say about all the actresses in Hollywood with their falsies - much more apparent.

Anyway - gotta go pop some ibuprofen to keep down the swelling!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Most Beautiful

Who is the most beautiful woman in the world?

This is a very easy question for me to answer. Her name is Anabel. You see, I have no torn emotions about this. There is no one who will be jealous of my answer or ask, "why her, why not me?"

She's apple cheeked and brown of eye. A smile encompasses her entire face. Her hair went from dark brown to "cinnamon and sugar" to white. She definitely wore those cats eye glasses! I thought her hair was curly, for 30 years. Surprise, it's as straight as mine. Apple landing near the tree and all that.

Have you guessed?

She is sneaky smart. Yikes, she'll let you believe that she's just "la-la, la-la, la" and then ZAP, not only was she paying attention, she has the answer. We thought her husband was smart, being an Engineer and all. He is. But she's smarter. New York Times crossword puzzle gets done in less than half an hour.

What a heart this woman has. Room for one man and six children. Anything and everything has humor in it - she can find it. Nothing is so awful or terrible or sad that you can't pull a smile out of it. When you have six kids, I think you have to develop a large funny bone. It's either that, or develop a large capacity for mood elevators or anti-depressants.

She lost her first child, all grown up with five of her own. It took a long time. But she was there, steadfast, traveling back and forth as much as she could. Just being there was her duty. You see, she also knows the value in that. You don't have to "do" all the time. There isn't always a need to "say" all the time. Sometimes, you just need to "be". Try it sometime, you'll see the wisdom. After Clare died, many came. Many tears were shed, but there was a calm presence whenever Anabel was in the room. She'd lost her daughter, her firstborn, yet she projected calm and peace towards everyone there. "You'll see, it's going to be OK." Those words did not come from her mouth, rather, every hug, touch, smile, held hand, pat on the shoulder, squeezed arm, said them for her. Those that were supposed to be comforting her were comforted. And in that, so was she.

I have no idea how many meals she's cooked for her family and others. Fifty six years worth for her husband and family, this year. I don't want to do that math, I'll be feeling even more in debt to this woman. Out of all this cooking I can say that there are a few recipes that no other can touch. Apple pie. Potato salad (no vinegar here). Baked Beans - I still remember the pot she bakes them in, dark green on the outside, white inside. German chocolate cake - the only cake I want on my birthday. Macaroni and cheese - from scratch - with pork chops baked on top! Salisbury steak - Jaimie hates this, but I love it. Chicken Rice Roger - how many people do you know can take one chicken and some rice and feed eight people with leftovers? Alas, she does not do very well with broccoli. Once you smell this burned onto steel, you are done for the night.

Six kids. No wacko's. Some are stranger than others, but no one has gone to prison, gotten lost in drugs, killed anyone, or knocked off a bank. Only one divorce. Everyone can have a decent conversation with everyone else. If you don't think that's a big deal, you don't have a big family.

She's retired now. Gets to read every book she wants. Her husband does a lot of the cooking - has some catching up to do if you do the math from above. She's waiting for her youngest daughter and kids to move back out (there's a story here for later) so it can be just she and her love. Mostly, she lives a much deserved, peaceful life.

Anabel. The most beautiful woman in the world. My mom. Mumma, MOTHER, Mah. I've annoyed, disappointed, angered, hurt, and once in a while made her proud. I have no wife, no daughters. Always this woman will be the most beautiful. The most loving. The funniest.

Anabel. Even her name, from the words "Gracious Beauty", says it.

I love you mom.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Embarrassing Face Marks

Seems like now's the time to reminisce about some of life's more embarrassing moments. Kassi inspired me to divulge this particular moment with her "Graduation Vacuum Hickey".

This happened the summer between my high school graduation and first semester of college.

I was a very popular babysitter in Poolesville when I was a teenager. Quite honestly, my book was full several weeks in advance. This allotted me a little extra cash and some much needed self esteem.

Anyway, one of the families that I sat for had a pool. An in-grown pool to beat that. Made of cement, it was. This is an important detail. One afternoon, I was invited over for some swimming fun with a couple of local neighbor kids and the mom of the household. It was a beautiful day, the sky mostly clear with a few cotton candy clouds. The pool was refreshingly cool, the air hot. I think there were 6 or 7 of us playing in the pool in total. I was swimming back and forth, fooling around with different ways to make it from one end to the other. One particular method involved maneuvering like a dolphin, arms down, undulating my whole body. This was a fun way - and was the way that the "Man from Atlantis" swam - so was kind of cool.

I stopped mid swim and took a breath. The water was slightly over my waist. I dove back under and began my undulation....and hit my face on the bottom. Ouch! I sprang back up from the bottom and exclaimed my surprise. I turned to the nice lady that owned the house/pool and said, "Yikes, I hit my face on the bottom!" Then I nervously laughed for a second. She did not laugh. First she looked surprised, then shocked, and then she screamed. I couldn't figure out what was the problem at first, then all the other girls started screaming too.

"What's wrong?!" I asked. I couldn't understand what the problem was, I'd just smacked my face on the bottom. It wasn't like I'd fallen on a fencepost from thirty feet in the air.

"Get some gauze, quick!" one of the girls yelled to the next door neighbor leaning against the fence.

Just then, some water from my eyebrow dripped into my eye, so I rubbed it with my hand. When I pulled it away and saw my hand, I understood all the commotion. It was covered with blood. One of the young ladies there had the poor sense to get some bactine. I climbed out of the pool and sat on the lawn to keep blood from dripping on the pavement. Unaware of what would happen, I closed my eyes and allowed my face to be anointed with bactine.


Yeah, it was that bad. Oh, and bactine keeps the wound red. For a day or so.

The right side of my forehead, my right cheek down to my jaw-line was scraped. This adventure might be amusing on its own, but the next day I got to go to freshman orientation at the University of Maryland.

Needless to say, I did not need any help starting up conversations with strangers the next two days on campus. I'm sure I made it memorable for many of the other students to be there.

This, my friends, is my life.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I travel a fair amount. Just enough to get "status" on one airline and "executive" car rentals. What does this mean? Pretty much nada.

Oh, I get to enter the plane first and rent a gas guzzler. Life, she's complete!

Anywhoo.....I drove to Tennessee on Monday and back yesterday.

I find it infinitely interesting to see the combination of public advertisement vs actual businesses when I visit somewhere new. Often, as was the case in the area around Knoxville, they are an amusing counterpoint to each other. There were lots of church billboards in this area, and a strangely numerous amount of adult book stores. Not sure if the "Jesus Saves" billboards were intended to discourage the attendance at the bookstores, or the churches just have lots of money to burn off instead of performing the community services they should be. I guess, it could just be chance as well.

The trip up there was fairly uneventful. Made the trip, including two stops, in about three hours. So, I figured that the return trip would go quickly as well. So much for figuring. Everything was going swimmingly. I was singing along with the Phantom. Everyone was clipping along at a mighty good pace. And then we stopped. For five miles and 45 minutes it felt as though I was back in Chicago, driving home in rush hour. And the cause of this? A not to bright driver was stopped in the right lane in the construction area where they had the road narrowed to the two lanes with no where to pull off. His/her car had conked out. Mind you, we were on a downward grade that ended with the end of the construction. So, had this driver thought for a minute, he/she could have coasted down the hill and PULLED OFF. But no, better to inconvenience all the other travelers on an interstate and chat on the phone.


But I did make it home safely and that's the good news. Milk and cookies, being back with Clif and my dog Copper made it all worth while.

Friday, January 13, 2006


We're going to be papering the bathroom on the main floor this weekend. Interesting wallpaper that is based upon old fashioned post cards randomly placed on a wall. Not the photo side of the post cards mind you, but the note side.

So, in order to paper, you've got to have a whole chain of events, not excluding changing the inner workings of the toilet. The first of these things is painting the trim. We're going to stick with basic white. So, Clif went out and bought some new, supposed "low VOC" oil based paint so he could get started. But let me back up a step. Even before you paint on oil with oil you have to "degloss" the existing trim. I'm sensitive to odor and chemical vapor. This deglossing stuff is wicked stinky. But, I'm a trouper, don't have to do the work, so I keep myself upstairs working. Clif is very aware of my smelly stuff issues, so I have been warned. A few hours later, he's painting the trim. Oh my, this stuff is really vile. The smell of it, I mean. White paint does not look vile.

Anyway, I'm fixing dinner now. All I know is that the pork chops, mac & cheese and roasted beets we are having for dinner will taste like oil based paint. So will breakfast tomorrow and most likely lunch. Dinner will be served up as a luscious wall paper paste flavor. I can hardly wait.

Diet anyone?

Monday, January 09, 2006

New Goals

OK, I need to post more frequently - new goal is at least once a week! A friend was posting earlier about habits. My work training says that they take 3 weeks and 27 "attempts" to ingrain. Wish me luck.

I have all these random thoughts anyway, really need to put them down.

Have I said how much I love the weather in Georgia? Seasons come and go on time. Sometimes it feels like they meld together to make a desirable amalgamation. Yesterday, for example; Technically speaking it is the dead of winter. It was in the mid sixties yesterday and sunny. This makes those gardening catalogs more mouth watering than they already are. The temptation is too much. I'm caving in today and ordering some Dahlias for the front yard. My inspiration for their color is the lantana that shifts from yellow to pink as the flowers open. I've got five in my "shopping cart" just awaiting the submit button.

I'm working from home today - really feeling spoiled - and today is just as great. I'm checking out all the swelling buds on my hydrangea. The daffodil's are about two inches out of the ground. The pansies and viola are in their glory, looking fully velvety.

Going to walk the dog, smell that lovely waking earth smell, squint at the bright sun, and eat my lunch.

Life, she's good!