Wednesday, March 30, 2005

the worst part of waking up.....

I once had a job that I hated the thought of waking up and going to every morning. I went through that for 7 months, thankfully not longer. I've been in my current job for over 5 years now, and while there are times I'd rather stay in bed, I really enjoy what I do.

There are people in life who, regardless of what good happens to them, are miserable. Nothing is ever right or good enough for them. "You won over $57 million in the lottery? That's great!" "Yeah, but think of all the taxes I'm going to have to pay....." These people have their own mascot - Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh.

I remember talking with a former boss about an an employee's attitude problem, and during the conversation he said that the 8-9 hours that some people spend at work is the best part of their day. That conversation stuck with me, because I know people like that. (We used to joke about taking our employees on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii, and saying that there would still be some who griped about it being too windy. Yeah, those kind of people.)

For the most part, people are who the are because of their environment. Their personality deveolped at an early age, and those who come into contact with them during their lifetimes just have to deal with it. And they usually deal with them by avoiding the person.

Can Eeyores turn into, oh, I don't know, Tiggers? Maybe, maybe not. Eeyores are like anyone else - they can only change if they want to change. No one can do it for them. If they're looking for someone or something else to make their life better, they're looking in the wrong direction. You have to start from within, and that might be part of the problem. I've got a feeling that most Eeyores don't particularly like themselves, which might relate to why they don't have alot of friends. A great Eeyore line? "One can't complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday."

As much as I like my job, I can't imagine that being my source of happiness. Dealing with an Eeyore or two at work along the way makes me appreciate my life even more. It's not perfect, but neither am I. But don't tell the bride, she doesn't know that yet.....

Monday, March 28, 2005

my new enemy.....

I've never been the kind of person to have an enemy. I can usually get along with just about anyone. Sure, there are people I'd just as soon not be around, but I can almost always find a way to tolerate them. However, the older I get, the more detestable I find him to be.....

I see him every morning in the bathroom. Short and squatty, with one judgemental eye staring up at me. He's white, but it wouldn't matter if he was black, brown or yellow, he'd still have the same effect on me. Though I tower above him, he coils and waits to strike me with information.....information that I'd rather not hear. Superman had his Lex Luther; Batman dealt with The Joker and The Riddler. My nemesis? The bathroom scales.....

I'm not sure how it was possible, but I believe I gained 73 pounds over the long weekend. I ate, knowing there would be consequences, but I didn't worry about it. I ate at Pal's for the first time in about a year - small chili burger and frenchy fries. If they had a Pal's in the Nashville area, I'd probably weigh 400 pounds.

The problem is, Johnson City isn't Vegas. Because whatever I eat in JC doesn't STAY in JC, it follows me back home. Oh, and another way to tell your getting old? When those "Body by Jake" commercials start to look convincing.....

Thursday, March 24, 2005

the rules have changed.....

When I was growing up, one of my favorite snacks at night was buttered toast. Don't know why, it just was. Sometimes I would eat four or six pieces at a single sitting. If I did that now, I'd gain four to six pounds at a single sitting. I never had any kind of weight problem, either. My metabolism was high, so whatever I ate would be burned up almost instantly.

I've heard it said that God has a sense of humor, and I think that's true with weight loss. What used to work for me in losing weight no longer works because our bodies change as we get older. When fat-free pototo chips came out, I ate them for snack at night instead of regular chips, and I lost weight. Five years later, that didn't work any more. Three years ago I went on a low-carb diet and dropped 28 pounds. Now the low-carb thing doesn't work nearly as well as it used to. Now I'm wondering what new set of rules I'll need to adhere to in order to lose some poundage.

I'm afraid it's time for me to face the facts - even though I think 40 is still a young age, things are changing for me. And they change for everyone around this age. The bride and I were discussing this just last night. Seems that no matter what we do, it's not enough. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not starving myself, but that's not always the best diet routine anyway. I excercise by running and walking a few times a week. I'd rather do it daily, but sometimes the schedule won't allow this to happen.

I've come up with a new idea for the bride and me to lose weight - we're going to take up smoking! Sure, it's a disgusting habit, we'll have decreased lung capacity, and our house will smell like a bar on Saint Patricks Day, but we're going to give it a shot. Now I have to find those big, long filter tip things that women used to use back in the 60's when they smoked. The bride thinks she'd look much cooler holding one of those while she smokes.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

comments from bunco widowers.....

When a reporter breaks a big story, he never knows what to expect. He could be pressured to reveal his sources, plead the fifth, and end up in prison. Maybe it doesn't get that bad. Maybe he'll face ridicule and taunting. But being a reporter, he's got to do his job - regardless of the consequences.

When I "broke" the bunco story last week, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The bride took it well, and she passed the story along to her bunco friends. I've gotten responses from two husbands, and I wanted to share them with my 'blog audience. (All the names have been changed to protect their identities. Also, so their wives won't beat the crap out of them.)

The first one is from "Frank", and he writes:

We (the men on the block) are here for you. We are all here for each other. I am not afraid to talk about the many times that I have put the children to bed, all of us in tears, worrying about when "Winky" would return and if we would have to take out a second mortgage on the house. This is especially hard on "Dana" and "Paula" who have taken to hiding their piggybanks. Poor "Charlene" now knows that when Mommy takes a picture of one of her toys to put on e-bay, the toy will most likely be gone in a few days. She stuffs all her favorite toys, clothes, and candy under her pillow every night.
I have heard of support groups on other streets where the men meet to discuss their wives addictions and how their families cope. Meetings are held on an as needed basis under the guise of a "Poker Night". Although poker is played and "beverages" are consumed, these ancillary activities are only intended to provide the type of environment where men can discuss their feelings, lean on one another, and if necessary, shed a few tears. We should schedule one of these support group meetings soon.

Frank and I have spoken since then. In fact, he called last night to ask me about the location of batting cages in the Franklin area. I knew this wasn't why he called. I could tell that Winky had walked into the room just as we began talking. I have to give him credit for thinking so fast on his feet and coming up with the batting cage thing on the fly. Hopefully, Winky didn't catch on; because if she did, Frank and the kids may end up in one of those undergroud bunco support group shelters you hear about. Hopefully, he was able to make it throught the night unharmed.

I also got a response from "Ted" about my post. His letter took a little different tilt as you can see:

I am having some difficulties relating to what Wade has expressed (even though he claims it is 'for grins and giggles'). The "Darling" boys and I see it as an adventure as we learn to plan for and prepare our evening meal, try to control the boys' excitement at the notion that they may be selected to clean the dishes, work feverishly to complete homework assignments prior to mom's arrival and look for other opportunities to clean or straighten the house in an effort to gain mom's praise. We are just excited that mom will take a well-deserved evening for herself ! As a matter of fact, the boys have often suggested that we encourage mom to participate in the clubhouse bunco night but we knew it would be met with resistance from mom as she feels that she needs to be here with the family. I'm not sure why she too, is often late coming home from her evening (always empty-handed from her 'financial investment') but we must assume that she is involved insome sort of counseling session with one of the 'younger' mothers; and that always makes us so proud!
No Wade, we encourage "Anastasia's" involvement as just a small token of our appreciation for a job, no, a life well done!Of course there are many who say I remain in denial...are you sure it is only once a month? What time do they get finished anyway, does anyone really know? Who actually has seen the 'winner's proceeds'? What are they really buying with $10 each?
I agree, we need (I need) this men's support group! This has been such a good therapy session for me, thanks Wade!

I don't weep that often, but it was all I could do to hold back the floodgates as I read this. This response SCREAMS "husband abuse" like I've never witnessed before. Can you see how he's just begging for approval from his wife? It's like he figures the more he does to make her "happy", the less chance there is that he'll get smacked around. The sad thing is that the boys are probably aware of the abuse, and they're just trying to help out dear old Dad. However, by the end of his response, you can see that Ted is starting to question things. Maybe there's hope for him yet.

You know, the more I dig into this bunco problem, the more I learn that bunco is just the top layer of the real problem. It's almost a mob mentality coming from the women on this street. Oh, sure, they're unassuming in their everyday life, but there's more to them than meets the eye. For example, I forgot to mention that when I got home from softball practice last Monday, there was a note from the bride saying that she had taken $10 from Sara's billfold. Stealing from children! I've even heard that some moms break into their child's piggy bank to get their "seed money" for the bunco game. Shocking! Even as the bride and I were out walking the other day, another mom called to us from her front porch that she had gotten new dice, laughing as she told us - an obvious jab at yours truly.

The "Cul-de-sac Mob o' Moms" may have a chink in their armour. Through some intelligence information gathered over the past week, we learned that one of the bunco players is moving out of state. (This isn't uncommon in the mob world. When they feel that their organization has been compromised, they usually move one of their "associates" and have them and their family members assume new identities. All I can say is lookout Gulf Coast.....) Once "Slim Shady" has moved, there's a slight chance we can get to the next mom who joins the group and have her be our "mole" to gather more information for us. The wheels are in motion, but that's all I can say about it at this point.

I won't lie to you - I'm more than a little scared. I've obviously awakened a sleeping giant, and he's trying to get back at me. Thankfully, the men on the street are behind me. As long as we keep a united front, we'll be fine. More on this troubling tale at a later date.......but from now on, there'll be no grins, no giggles, just the cold hard facts.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

an 8-year-old's view.....

This was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista , CA . He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to "explain God". I wonder if any of us could have done as well?

"One of God's main jobs are making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers."

"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off."

"God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have."

"Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista . At least there aren't any who come to our church."

"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O. K."

"His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important."

"You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time."

"You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!

Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway."

"If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids."

" shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.

And...that's why I believe in God."

PS - On the way to softball practice last night Sara (10) said, "I know why God's not married. It's because he loves everyone the same, so he couldn't choose just one person to marry." Both of our girls have always been "thinkers", and I like that about them.....

Monday, March 21, 2005

ode to fred - the easter chicken.....

When I was about 6 or 7, my parents got me a baby chick for Easter. I named him Fred. No, we didn't live on a farm or anything, but my mom's parents did. I was told that when he got a little bigger, we'd take him to live on Mamaw's and Papaw's farm in Rogersville.

I had very bad allergies when I was younger. I couldn't be around dogs or cats without having an allergic reaction. (Too bad I'm not still allergic to dogs, huh Wally?) Apparently I wasn't allergic to feathers, or at least not too bad, so I got the chick. I'm not really sure why they got me a chick. Maybe I begged for a pet and they knew we couldn't keep a chick for too long on a 3/4 acre lot in a suburban neighborhood, so that would shut me up. Sounds like reasonable parental logic to me.

After a few weeks, Fred needed more space than our fenced-in backyard and garage could provide, so we took him down to the farm in Rogersville. I was concerned, as anyone would be, that he'd fit in with the other chickens and roosters. I mean, up to that point he'd led a very privileged life as an "only chicken" in a middle-class neighborhood. Now he was going to the 'hood when his peers had grown up with dirt and wood floors. Would he be laughed at by the other chickens? Would they tape "peck me" signs on his back when he wasn't looking? But in life, it's not always the obvious that you have to worry about.....

A couple of months later, we went to visit my grandparents on a Saturday. I went off in search of Fred, but Mamaw said a fox must have gotten him because they hadn't seen him around lately. As we sat down for lunch, I saw Mamaw whisper something to my mom, and Mom nodded (much like you'd see Big Tony nod on The Sopranos after someone had been whacked per Tony's instructions). Mamaw was a great cook, and one of her specialties was fried chicken. That's what we had that day for lunch. A year or so later, I learned that we actually ate Fred on that Saturday afternoon. Yep, we had fried Fred.

Maybe this story sounds cold and uncaring, but believe it or not I never went to therapy over it. On a farm, farm animals can't be pets. They're just objects that either feed you or provide money for you when you sell them.

The Easter bunny has never brought a chick, a duck or a rabbit for the girls at Easter. (Nor will he this year; we've already called ahead and checked.) They prefer edible things in their Easter baskets, anything chocolate. And that's fine with me, because I'm not sure how either princess would react to a Fred-type incident.....

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The bride, posing on 17-Mile Drive

then, 480 months later.....

I love the movie "City Slickers." One of my favorite lines is when Mitch's mom calls him early in the morning on his 39th birthday and gives him his age in months. Something like, "468 months ago today, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy....." The whole time, Mitch and his wife are mouthing the words as his mom is speaking.

So, 480 months ago today, my bride was born. Just in case you haven't picked up on it before, let me tell you what comes to mind when I think about her:

Patient - wonder why this one popped into my mind first?
Genuine - I'm not sure that she could have an ulterior motive if she tried
Caring - she's the first one to cry during "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
Giving - like most moms, her wardrobe is usually the last to have things added to it
Happy - yeah, even with someone like me around!

I've known my bride for over 18 years now. Even though it's not very romantic, I've always called her my "balancing feature." Her personality is more laid-back and even-tempered; I'm Type A, completely. She makes up for my quirks. And if she had any quirks, she knows I'd make up for them for her. I'm glad that I've gotten to be a part of her life for 18 years, and I'm looking forward to the next 50 with her.

Oh, yeah, and I love her very much. Happy Birthday, bride o' mine!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Meg, Papa and Sara - March 16, 1995
I've got a doll, sittin' on the couch.....not a care in the world!
Love those curls!
Sisters on the hearth
My favorite Sara picture - 2 years old
Sara at Ellen's Wedding - July 2004

gotta' be sara.....

There are many things in life for which I am very grateful. Today marks another reason to be thankful. Because ten years ago today, God blessed the bride and me with Sara.

It's amazing how two children in the same family can be so different. Meg was the kind of child who never really got into things. She didn't use crayonS on the walls, or make messes on a regular basis. (Except for the time with the stuff frog, but that's a story for another time.) She slept through the night at about 5 weeks. Sara? Very different. At four months old, I can remember still lying on a twin bed in her room with Sara on my chest, just trying to get her to sleep. This went on for seemingly months.

Two things that I remember about Sara growing up - she's was (and still is, for the most part) an instigator, and she always tries to diffuse tension with humor. (Not quite sure where she gets that from.)

Her instigation skills began at an early age. She was about 18 months old, still toddling around more than walking. Sara and Meg were in the living room at our old house. Meg was minding her own business, laying in the floor watching television. She was on her back with her hands behind her head. Sara came toddling by, looked at Meg, grinned and promptly stepped on her stomach. I think it surprised Meg more than it hurt her, but it was still at least an uncomfortable feeling. As Sara strolled past Meg, she glanced back with a look that said, "Yeah, I just did that. What are you going to do about it??????"

One afternoon when Sara was about three, I had come home and was changing clothes in my bedroom. As I was hanging things up in the closet, I can't remember exactly what she was doing, but I kept telling Sara to stop doing whatever it was she was doing. After about 3 warnings, she was still at it. I picked her up, put my face right in front of hers, and said, "Sara, I said to stop it!" She looked at me, paused with perfect comedic timing, pinched my nose and said "HONK!" To this day, I still don't know where that came from. Of course, a parent (especially a dad) can only hold laughter in for just so long. I think I was able to go 2.3 seconds before laughing.

It's hard to believe that she's ten today. I remember being in the hospital ten years ago today. We got there at 6:00, and by 6:45 we were in a room and ready to get things going. After getting the petosin drip going, and having the epidural procedure done, we knew it wouldn't be long. At 10:56 AM, Sara Beth Stapleton was born. Grandparents and family members crowded in the family waiting area. It was only the second time I'd ever seen my father-in-law shed tears; the first time was about five years earlier when Meg was born.

The first ten years have flown by. I've seen her go from a baby with no hair (until she was about 15 months old) to a beautiful young lady with gorgeous natural curls. She has a tender heart, and can't stand to see people hurt. Yet with a gleam in her eye, she can torture her older sister. She's growing into a warm, caring, lovely young lady. And I can't wait to see what the next ten years will bring.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

gambling addiction update.....


I came home, after Sara's softball practice last night, to a house without my wife. Yes, she's at it again. She yielded to the strong force of snack food and dice known as Bunco.....

Should I really call it an addiction? I mean, it's only once a month. It's not like she sneaks out between Bunco nights and finds other Bunco games (that I'm aware of). But last night was different.....she came home later than normal. As I comforted our crying children, amidst whimpers of "when's Mommy coming back home?" and "can you show me a picture of Mommy so I'll remember what she looks like?", I couldn't help looking at the clock.

I put Sara to bed, and calmed her down. She finally went to sleep with the assurance that, even though Mommy wouldn't be there to see her tonight, Mommy would be there for her in the morning. Meg seemed to be OK, but I knew she could sense my concern. We gave each other that knowing "she's doing it again" look, and left it at that. Older children are good at that, and I'm proud of the way she's handling this ordeal.

I tried to pass the time by reading. That's one thing I enjoy about reading - you can "get out of yourself" and become the character(s) in the book. But that doesn't last for long. I started asking myself, "what is it that Bunco gives her that I can't?" I might as well had been beating my head against the pavement in an effort to soothe an aching head - trying to solve this problem is seemingly useless. I questioned myself, wondering what I could do differently. (This is pretty common in spouses of addicts.) What's sad is when the girls find a stray dice under the couch and say something like "Mommy's special friend?"; I have to turn away so as not to show my emotions in front of them. I keep telling myself that I HAVE to be strong for the children.

I may even be an enabler. A few weeks ago, I was at Stein Mart and saw a clearance table. I purchased some Bunco plates for the bride, since she would be hosting the event at our home that month. In my heart, I felt that it was the right thing to do because I knew it would make her happy, but now I'm not so sure.

I don't think I'm the only guy on our street feeling this pain. We don't talk about it openly, men never do; but we sometimes speak in generalities about the monthly event. We may not be forthright with our feelings, but the sting is obviously there. I'm not trying to excuse the bride's actions by saying "everybody's doing it" or anything. The problem seems to be bigger than just one or two women, though.

I guess the best thing I can do is share my story with other men facing the same issue. I'm thinking of giving the husbands on the street my 'blog address so that they can know they're not alone in this situation. Maybe we'll start a support group and meet once a month, or whenever necessary, and open up channels of communication between one another. Perhaps we'll have a "buddy system" where that men can call their "buddy" whenever they feel the need to talk about their concerns with the addiction our wives are all facing.

I'm not going to fool myself, it won't be easy. It's going to take alot of hard work. But in the end, I know it will be worth it. The women on our street need to know that they have husbands and children who love them very much, and are there for them at all times. Some of the wives may not completely understand or believe this, but I want to make sure that my bride undertands this. We love you, honey, and we want to help you through this. There won't be any judgement on our part, just understanding and love. We're your family, and we're here for you.....

Monday, March 14, 2005

10:00 is the new midnight.....

I've heard new phrases like "40 is the new 30" and "50 is the new 40", so after this weekend I decided to coin my own new phrase: 10:00 is the new midnight. Why? Because the older I get, the more difficult it gets to stay up past 10:00 at night. Ten years ago, it wasn't too big of a deal to make it to mignight, at least for me. The bride's always been the kind of person who would be asleep on the couch by 8:30 on a nightly basis if she had the chance.

We ended up with five 9th grade girls in our home for the weekend, along with a college senior as their group leader. I think the loudest it got was any time that Sara was in the room "entertaining" them with cartwheels or dance moves. They did devotionals Friday night and Saturday morning. The entire group's service product was collecting food for the TN Baptist Children's Home, and as a whole they collected over 9,000 pounds of food. There's a good bunch of kids in our youth group, and almost 200 participated in the weekend event. And the youth ministry staff is unbelievable.

It made it to 78 here on Saturday, and it was so nice. Of course, back to more "seasonal" weather for the rest of the week, but spring is definitely getting closer. Makes me want to go out to the driving range just to see how poorly I can hit a golf ball.

A bit of sad news. The bride's cousin, Jennifer, and her husband Mark are moving. Mark came across a great opportunity in North Carolina, and they leave in a couple of weeks. So now we'll be about 480 miles away from each other instead of 18 miles. They will be very missed by our family of four. The bride and Jennifer are more like sisters than cousins, so this will be harder for them than any of the rest of us.

So do I feel any older today than I did Friday as a result of a weekend with 5 extra women in the house? No, I don't think so. However, you don't always notice missing brain cells right away, and there's a good chance I had a few of them burned away with all the hair dryers going in our house over the past few days.....

Friday, March 11, 2005

it's all in your mind.....

They say (and again, who am I to argue with them?) that you're only as old as you feel. If that's the case, then I'm 112 this week.

I'm not sure what it is, but this week I just can't seem to get enough sleep. I can't blame the Pacific time zone any more, because we've been back for nine days now. I need a remedy.

Well, as luck would have it, I may have a remedy coming my way this weekend. They say that being around younger people will make you feel younger. If that's the case, I'll be cured in no time, because this weekend we're hosting six 9th-grade girls from our church at our house for a spring youth "retreat" of sorts. They start arriving at 7:30 tonight, and we'll have them until Sunday morning at about 9:00. We did this last year, but had about 10 girls. Come to think of it, I don't remember feeling any younger then. In fact, I think I felt a little older after the weekend was over.

That's the thing - how does being around someone younger make you feel younger? If anything, it would make you feel older, reminding you "hey, I'm 25 years older than this kid." Either way, doesn't matter to me. I'll be 41 this year, and that's no big deal. I guess I shouldn't expect to feel 16.

Besides, who would want to be 16 again and deal with all the stuff that teenagers have to deal with today? Not me. I'd rather be a dad and try to help our two girls get through it. Here's to the bride and me making it through the weekend, and feeling no older than 40 come Sunday afternoon.....

Thursday, March 10, 2005

i'm either maturing or cracking up.....

I believe the bride and I took around 175 pictures on our trip last week. We culled out the ones that were either too much like the others or the bride's hair didn't look right in all that wind, burned them to a CD, and I took them to Wolf on the way home last night to have them developed. Much to my surprise, they said they could have them for me in about an hour. (One thing that's always burned me up about Wolf is that they claim to have one-hour service, yet most of the time they say they can't have them back to me within an hour. OK, so I feel better about them now.)

So I'm walking around the mall, looking for the sale racks in Hecht's, Parisian and Dillards. Nothing I just had to have, so I kept on walking. After hitting these stores and a few more, I still had 30 minutes to kill. I headed for Electronic Express, only to realize when I got there that they had moved out of the mall. Then I did something I would have never done nine months ago.....I went into a (gasp) bookstore!

I felt a little funny going in there, because usually the only time I'm in a place like Walden Books is when I'm going in to get the bride or one of our girls out of there. I went to the new release shelf (or whatever it's called) at the front of the store and picked up the new John Grisham book, The Broker. I read the synopsis on the inside cover. "Hey, this looks good!", I thought to myself. Then I picked up another book, "The Five People You Meet In Heaven." After reading the synopsis on this book, it looked like another book I would want to read. I made a mental notes of these book titles so that I would remember to check them out next time I go to the library.

So I'm either maturing or cracking up. I'll assume that it's the former, but I'll fight the maturation process with all that's in me. But maybe, and I'm just saying MAYBE, I can enjoy reading and still act like an idiot the rest of the time. I'll let you know how that goes.....

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

all dressed up and nowhere to get her picture made.....

I'm not really sure who the bride had to pose for her last drivers license picture. When I look at it, I have a difficult time realizing that it's supposed to be her. But she was determined not to let that happen again.

I got a call Monday morning at about 9:30 from my bride. She was upset because she had gotten out of the house early that morning to go get her license renewed, and the station was closed. How dare they not be open on a Monday morning! In a kidding way, I said something like, "And I bet your hair was just right and you had the perfect outfit on, too!" She confirmed my suspicion.

I've got to be honest with you on this one - guys don't put that much thought into going to have their licenses renewed. You go, pray that you don't have to wait three hours, and hope they don't snap the picture at a moment that you look like someone whose elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor, then you leave.

But if you think about it, the bride's way of doing this might just make sense. I mean, you're stuck with the picture for 5 to 10 years, so why not make it a good one? You're not looking for a "Glamour Shots" pose or anything, just something decent that won't make the lady at Home Depot laugh when she asks to see your photo ID.

Here's to my bride's new picture on her license, and here's to hoping I recognize the lady on the license when I see the new one.....

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

almost springtime in middle tennessee.....

This past weekend was a bit windy but warm. As I'm driving out of the garage this morning, I looked up and saw snow coming down. Must be March in Franklin.

Softball practices started for both Meg and Sara on Saturday. We've got 14 girls on Sara's team, and 10 made it to the first practice. Meg's team will end up with 11 or 12. The winds made it seem much colder than it actually was on Saturday, and during Sara's practice most of the girls were in either long sleeve t-shirts or sweatshirts. As the day wore on it got much colder. Meg's practice started at 4:00, and some of the girls had on shorts and t-shirts. I was in left field shagging balls and freezing in jeans and a pullover. I guess 14-year-old girls have better blood flow than 40-year-old men.

Sara's practice last night was cut short due to rain. We got there early and went ahead and got Sara's and the coaches' daughter's batting practice in. By then some of the other girls started showing up, and I started pitching to the others while the rest of the girls lined the infield. At about 6:10, the rain started coming down in sheets, and the girls loved it. Well, most of them loved it. One of them (her mother complained about her lack of playing time last year, but the truth is she could get hurt playing some of the positions she wants to play; while playing first last night, Sara hummed one from shortstop that almost took her head off), after about 3 minutes of rain, said "ok, I'm outta' here!" and she was gone. I started slipping and sliding as I planted my foot while pitching and lost my touch, so we decided to call it about about 20 minutes. Everyone was soaked, players, coaches and parents. We were both pretty cold when we got home, but it was fun being out in the rain.

I started counting the pictures that we took while in California, and I believe there were around 175. I'll take them to Wolf after work tonight to get them developed. It's amazing how digital photography has changed the way we take pictures. We deleted several pictures immediately after we took them when they didn't turn out right. That's pictures that we don't have to develop, saving us money right there.

As for springtime in Franklin, Sara and I saw some beautiful flowers on our way to practice that had recently bloomed; bright, vivid yellow flowers that you see when it turns spring. I mowed for the first time on Saturday, and the yard is a deep green and thick with grass. The hosta and monkey grass are both starting to come out just a bit. Sure it means more work in the yard, but I love it. If springtime only included the college football season, it would be perfect.....

Monday, March 07, 2005

Pier 39 in San Francisco
Alcatraz Island
17-Mile Drive, near Cypress Point
The Lone Cypress, 17-Mile Drive
The 18th green at Pebble Beach (I've just hit a 38-foot eagle putt to shoot a 68.....uh, yeah right.....)
Big Sur (Bixby Bridge to the right)
Golden Gate Bridge (with the bride's hair flowing the in breeze)
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Cannery Row at night
Downtown San Francisco from the boat
View from our deck

i'm ready to go back.....

If I could afford the time and the money, we'd go right back. Yes, it was that much fun.

I don't think there was anything about the trip that was bad. The flights there and back were great; no delays, no bad weather to travel through. Enterprise was out of full size cars, so they upgraded us to an SUV at no charge. The Yahoo! maps worked pretty well, we didn't get lost (at least, not too bad).

Here's a day-by-day recap of the trip:

Saturday, February 26

We left for the airport at 6:00 AM, and got there around 6:40. By the time we checked our bags and cleared the security gates, we were at our gate by about 7:00. The flight left at 8:00 and we were in LA within 4 1/2 hours. We had an hour layover, and then boarded the plan for San Jose. Within an hour of takeoff, we were on the ground again.

The drive from San Jose to Marina is at times breathtaking. The rolling hills with beautiful green grass set against the perfectly blue skies make for a postcard-like view. We drove through several small towns, like San Martin, Gilroy and Prunedale. Gilroy is apparently the garlic capital of the world, and you could smell the aroma as you passed by the city. The artichoke fields seemed to go on fovever.

As we got on California Highway 1, we started seeing the dunes. Hill after hill of sand, with small plants scattered here and there. Then we saw a piece of the Pacific Ocean, and we knew we were close to Marina Dunes, our place of residency for the next few nights. We saw our exit, and just like that, we were there. The scenery was unbelievable. From our deck, we saw the large waves beating against the shore, with a small mist riding the waves. The water was an amazing blue-green. We unpacked, called home to let everyone know we made it safely, then headed out for Monterey.

We passed through Marina and Seaside on our way. Nice little towns with great settings. We spent the evening walking up and down Cannery Row. I read Steinbeck's book by the same name on the way out, and it was neat seeing all the different sites there and thinking back on the book. We ate at a place called Sly McFly's, then did a little more walking. Cannery Row was a very cool, with shops up and down the street, sitting right on the ocean. The winds made it feel colder than it actually was, and the bride did a little coat shopping that evening. She never did pull the trigger and buy one, though. After a little more shopping, we decided to head back to Marina Dunes for the evening.

Because of the time change, I think we were asleep before 9:00 PM. During the night, we woke up a few times and thought we heard thunder. It wasn't thunder, but actually the sound of the waves. That's a nice sound.....

Sunday, February 27

One of the great things about this trip was that there were no real agendas to follow. Sure, there were things we wanted to do, but nothing had to be done at a specific time. We got up and ate some breakfast, then went on a walk on the beach. One of the things we noticed while on the beach was that dune sand is different from surf sand. With each step, the bride and I sunk a couple of inches. This made walking on the beach a bit more strenuous. We were use to more packed-down sand like in Myrtle Beach or Daytona. This wasn't a bad thing, just different. After our walk, we came back and got ready to do the 17-Mile Drive. Once again, the scenery on this stretch of roads is just the opposite of disappointing. From high up in the hills to right on the shore, the views are spectacular. The winds were up quite a bit, and it was an overcast day, but it was still stunning. Our favorite part of the trip was Pebble Beach. The Lodge was beautiful, and the 18th hole was nothing short of magnificent. From there, we got off the 17-Mile Drive and went to Big Sur. We ate at a place called Rocky Point in Big Sur. Unbelievable views, moderate food. The funny thing was that later we realized that we were in viewing distance of the Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in the world. We would have gotten much better pictures of the bridge if we had known about it then. We drove on into Big Sur. (I kept wondering how anyone could question the existence of God after seeing all I had seen that day. There's no way all of THIS could have been accidentally created.) On the way back to Marina, we stopped and shopped in Carmel for an hour or so. Very cool town.

Monday, February 28

This was my favorite day of the whole trip. Again, no agendas, so we got a slow start to the day. We slept late, ate breakfast, then went for a long walk. We left the hotel around 11:30 and went back to Cannery Row in Monterey. We ate a small lunch at Archie's, then walked to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We spent over two hours walking around the aquarium in awe of the exhibit and the animals. We kept talking about how much the girls would have loved to have been there. After this, we went back to Cannery Row for more shopping. (Did I mention that the bride likes to shop?) We went to Cannery Row's Factory Outlets and bought a few things there. Then back to the shops on Cannery Row where we bought a few things for the girls. Dinner that night was at Bubba Gump's. This was our favorite meal of the trip, probably because it was our BIGGEST meal of the trip. The bride had fried chicken, and I had coconut shrimp. We were full, and we normally don't do this, but the desserts looked too good to pass up. The bride went with her favorite, key lime pie, while I decided to be a COMPLETE glutton and have the chocolate chip cookie sundae. Our waitress was nice enough to roll us out of the restaurant. If she would have only rolled us UP THE HILL to where our car was parked..... Not to worry, we knew our old friend Gaviscon was waiting for us back in our room!

Tuesday, March 1

We decided to set aside Tuesday as our San Francisco day. It took us about two hours to drive there, but the scenery was once again worth the drive. We shopped up and down the streets at Fisherman's Wharf. We had lunch at Boudin's, then took a bay cruise where we got an up-close look at things like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. After that, we shopped on Pier 39 for an hour or so. While the bride shopped, I sat on different benches until I found an unprotected wireless Internet connect and e-mail the girls at home. By this time, we were ready to head back south to our hotel. We did decide by the end of the day that we enjoyed the Monterey/Carmel area much better than San Francisco. Monterey and Carmel are both more laid back and low-key. We stopped in Gilroy at the outlets and (guess what?) did more shopping. After supper and American Idol, we started packing for our trip back the next morning.

Wednesday, March 2

We woke up to ants in our pastries this morning. Someone on had this happen to them here, and there was even a thing in the room that said to keep food sealed. We thought it was sealed, but not well enough. At least it was the bride's pastries and not mine.....don't worry, I shared with her! We took a few more looks at the Pacific Ocean, and then got in the car to leave. Thank goodness for HOV lanes between Gilroy and San Jose, or else we would have never made our plane in time. When we turned in our car at Enterprise, they told us that they had been looking for this Envoy. Apparently when they didn't have a full size car and gave us the Envoy instead, the young lady failed to document this little detail. I guess we were lucky we didn't get pulled over and accused of driving a stolen car. We made it to the airport and waited for our plane to take off. The guy who worked for Southwest at the gate needs to come up with some different terminology for the sake of his customers. As he was scanning our tickets, he said "This thing's been acting strange all day, running really slow. I know it's gonna' crash." The word "crash", while appropriate when talking about computers, should NEVER BE USED around people who are boarding a plane.

When we got to LA, we ate a bite of lunch and waited for our plane home. We kept noticing this guy with a turban and a long beard walking around at our gate. He would wander around and then go to the pay phones. No, I wasn't being politically correct, but I couldn't help it. Wrong or not, the bride and I were EXTREMELY relieved when he wandered on down to another gate. We also watched to see if he boarded our flight, and again, much to our relief, he didn't. We made it home safe and sound, and it was great to have the girls there at the airport with Ken and Hattie. The ride home was anything but quiet, with us talking about the trip and the girls catching us up on their week.

Our bodies are starting to adjust back to our time zone. And we're getting back into our routines once again. Softball practice started for both girls this past weekend, so we know spring is just around the corner. It may take some time before the bride and I get to take another trip like this again, but I can say with some bit of assurance that Monterey will be our destination sometime in the future. And I can't think of another person that I'd enjoy traveling with better than my bride.

I hope to post some pictures from the trip later today. They may be a little fuzzy on here, because I'll need to lessen the resolution just a bit to post them.