Friday, May 8, 2015

Eldest Graduates From College

Today, Eldest graduates from college. Like all major life events, this gives me pause to remember. I remember the morning my wife’s water broke. It was July 1st and she wasn’t due until August 4th. It was four weeks before the due date and we were both concerned.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that my wife went into labor early. She is early to everything, she comes from a long line of women who are early to everything.

I called the doctor’s office, which was closed, and was given the number for the on-call answering service. I called the number and the man on the other side asked his scripted questions. “What is her due date? How far apart are her contractions?” and so on.

When I told him her contractions were many minutes apart, he asked if this was our first child. It was. He told me to call back when the contractions were two minutes apart.

I wanted to reach through the phone, grab him by the neck, and shake him, but I did not.

Instead, I took a deep breath and said, “Let me start again; my wife is due August 4th.” And then I stopped. There was a long silence on the line and suddenly the faceless voice on the line said, “Ooohhh. She is four weeks early!” I could almost hear the panic in his voice as he told me he would page the on call doctor immediately, and if I didn’t hear from the doctor in twenty minutes, I should call back.

Eldest was born the next day. She was healthy and happy. At least I think she was happy. She didn’t say much those first few weeks and months, so I cannot be absolutely sure. In fact, she didn’t say much the first few years. Beloved and I would often have to encourage her to use her words, which she adamantly refused to do.

For most of her time in grade school, middle school, and high school, Eldest wanted to be an engineer. She took all the math and science classes she could. She took classes on electricity and computer aided drawing. And we still had to remind her to use her words.

Today, three years after graduating from high school, Eldest graduates from college. Like her entrance into the world, and in the tradition of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, who all believe that being on time is late, she is graduating early.

Today, Eldest graduates with a degree, not in math or science, but English. Apparently, all those years of admonishing her to use her words stuck with her and now she writes—and wow, does she write! (Check her blog out at

So, Eldest, congratulations on finishing your baccalaureate degree. I am in awe of your quiet strength, your tender wit, and your firmly caring heart. I am proud of you and can’t wait to see what this new chapter in your life brings.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring is Here; That Means One Thing

It is spring and that means facing one stark reality; I have put on weight over the winter. Actually, I have put on weight over the past 20 winters. Well, to be totally honest, I have put on weight over the past 20 winters, springs, summers, and falls.

Over those years, I have lost hundreds of pounds as well; unfortunately, it was the same 5 pounds, over and over again.

This spring, I have determined to lose weight. I am going to do this by eating healthy and getting more exercise.  From what my Facebook time-line tells me, this is the wisest way to lose weight, and I figure if it is on Facebook, it has to be true.

So, this afternoon, at lunch time, I started on my journey of healthy eating. I cast about the kitchen, considering all my options for a healthy diet. My gaze fell upon a box of raisins. Eureka! I shouted. I felt comfortable shouting that, because I was home alone.

Eureka! A raisin is a healthy food and one that should help me lose weight. After all, a raisin is simply a grape that has lost a lot of weight. I opened the container of raisins, took one out, and put it in a bowl. I walked to the dining room with my healthy lunch and sat down.

I stared at the lonely raisin in the large empty bowl and thought. I thought, “This is not a well-balanced diet. It is simply a lonely raisin in a rather large bowl. I must eat a balanced diet, for that is what it says to do on Facebook.”

I walked back to the kitchen and searched for something healthy to keep my lonely raisin company. I found a wonderful dairy product to add – vanilla ice cream. One large, well-rounded scoop was added to the bowl and the raisin placed on top. I took my healthy lunch back to the dining room and sat down to congratulate myself on my journey to health.

As I gazed upon my raisin in its bed of frozen dairy product I thought to myself, “this isn't a balanced meal at all. It's not healthy. I must have protein.” I picked up my bowl, with the raisin in its bed of ice cream and meandered into the kitchen. I looked about for an appropriate source of protein. I spied a jar of peanuts on the counter. Peanuts would be perfect, except for one thing, I am allergic to peanuts.

Instead of the peanuts, I opted for a spoonful of soy butter. It looks and tastes similar to peanut butter, but it doesn’t try to kill me.

I carried my bowl back to the dining room and sat down. I gazed at it, deep in thought. Something was gnawing at me. Something was wrong. I considered all the possibilities and quickly realized I had neglected carbohydrates.

I quickly grabbed the bowl and bolted for the kitchen. Pretzels! I crumbled a handful of pretzels on my lunch.

By now, I was becoming quite hungry and rushed back to the dining room to finally eat my mid-day meal.

Before I could dig in, I looked one last time at the bowl. It was well-balanced: fruit, dairy, protein, carbohydrates, but I needed something to tie it all together, to turn it into a meal worthy of not only my weight loss goal, but to please my highly-refined palate.

And so, yet again, I walked into the kitchen. This time I knew exactly what I needed and didn’t hesitate. I opened the refrigerator and pulled out the chocolate syrup. I applied just enough syrup to tie the entire dish together, creating a culinary masterpiece, from just the humble beginnings of one raisin.

I inspected my lunch carefully before I left the kitchen and realized I now had, basically, a brown blob. I needed color! What better way to add color, but sprinkles, and lots of them.

Finally, I was satisfied with my creation. I sat down at the dining room table, and grabbed my spoon to eat, when it hit me. It occurred to me that I had to be more cautious around silverware.

It also occurred to me that this lunch, this afternoon meal, was too much. There was simply too much in that bowl.

Therefore, I picked out the raisin, threw it away, and ate only what remained. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Is It Time Yet?

It is the first week of April and that means two things: yard clean up and prom shopping. The first, yard clean up, is a necessary chore.  It has been a long, cold and windy winter. Since my house is on a corner lot, and only a block from a multitude of stores and gas stations, there seems to be a lot to clean up. 

I didn’t keep an accurate tally, but I picked up a multitude of old soda pop bottles, a few beer cans, a host of cigarette packs and an assortment of lottery tickets.  Needless to say, the bottles and cans were empty, as were the cigarette packs. And if there was a doubt, every single one of the lottery tickets was a loser. Every. Single. One.

I found this to be rude. If you are going to deposit your personal property on my personal property at least make it personally profitable for me to put your stuff where it belongs.

This complete disregard for my labor in keeping my yard clean left me in a funk. To alleviate that funk, I decided to do some therapeutic shoe shopping. Note, the shopping wasn’t for shoes that are therapeutic, it was the shopping that was meant to be therapeutic.

For my long time friends and readers, you know that I find nothing therapeutic about shopping. I do, however, find spending time with my family therapeutic. Beloved, Middlest, Littlest, and I went to the mall. The young ladies went shopping for shoes for their respective proms.
While they were looking for new soles, I took my watch to a jeweler for a quick fix. After I handed my timepiece to the kind gentleman behind the counter, he said the repair would be done in about 15 minutes. I, out of the force of habit, looked at my wrist to see what time it was, so I would know when to pick the watch up. Then I looked at the kind gentleman behind the counter, and we both laughed at my epic fail.

While I waited for the womenfolk to pick out the right shoes and my watch to be repaired, I sat out on a bench in the mall. I was facing one of the kiosks that sells mediocre jewelry at bargain basement prices. There was a young couple shopping for some bling. The male part of the couple sat on a bench near me, while the female looked over all the shiny stuff.

After a few moments, the female came around from the far side of the kiosk and yelled in the most romantic way possible while shopping at a mall and looking at mediocre jewelry, “Hey, what you last name be again?”

Upon hearing that crime committed against grammar and the English language, I looked at my wrist to see if it was time to pick up my watch yet. The watch was still at the jewelers and had not magically reappeared on my wrist.

My family, however, did magically reappear and declared that despite the enormous square footage of the shoe store, there were simply no prom shoes to be had and so, we continued to shop. And shop. While I repeatedly checked my wrist to see if it was time to leave yet.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I Am So Over This

It has been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post. The main reason for this is, I haven’t written one. Some of the secondary reasons have to do with the flu, a root canal, and ongoing visits to medical professionals for back problems. These issues, combined with trying to work three jobs, has left little time to write; in fact it leaves little time to sleep or eat although the numbers on the scale don’t seem to indicate that I actually have been eating any less.

Up until three years ago, I only worked two jobs. Then my second job, for a company that prints time sensitive documents, cut back and laid 20 or so employees off, contracting their jobs out to a third party company. I was somewhat thankful that they kept me on, even though I went from working 30 hours a week to 10 hours a week. In fact, for a short time, I was working a meager 7 hours a week in the middle of the night, loading trucks.

And then, two years ago, President Obama did something. He made an announcement. I have noticed he is good at announcements. He has a knack for it. He announced that he had created something like a bazillion new jobs in the previous year.

Being a patriotic American, and not wanting to let anything go to waste, I got another job. This job paid, per hour, fifty percent more than what I am making at my job for the printing company. I have kept that printing company job because I enjoy the people I work with. They are a great group of guys, and more importantly, they laugh at my jokes.

Last weekend, some guy, who apparently is my bosses’ boss, and I have only seen once in my eight years at this job, came in for the night. At the end of the night, he said he wanted to talk to me. Now, it is 2:00 in the morning, and I want to go home and go to bed. Instead, I found myself in the unenviable position of talking to this guy.

I could tell he was nervous. His eye lids fluttered, he stammered a little, and he failed to make eye contact. I remained kind and gracious. He babbled on for a few minutes, telling me how much he appreciated the 8 years I have worked with the company and all the things I have helped to do.

It has been my experience that when a boss you have never met starts telling you he appreciates your work, he is either in a chemically altered state, or there is bad news to follow. In this case it was bad news. Although, I suppose bearing bad news and needing to be in a chemically altered state  are not mutually exclusive, and may actually go hand in hand.
To sum up his convoluted, less-than-direct discussion, because I don’t work more than 13 hours a week, they have to pay people overtime to make up for this lack. Therefore, if I don’t work more hours, they are going to hire someone who will work more; then they will take my job and give it to the new hire.
He was kind enough to give me a week to think about it. I accepted his offer of time to consider my answer.

Since I have decided not to take more hours at the printing company, I expect my schedule to open up in the near future. Please, do not tell President Obama, he might take it upon himself to make another announcement.