Be Quiet And Eat Your Cranberry Sauce

A re-write of the most horrifying Thanksgiving story ever told. EVER told. Emphasis on EVER.

Today’s tale has all the elements of a great story – romance, family, a villain, a military hero, death, horror, and home-made cranberry sauce. Before you read this, know that when I say it is a great story I do not mean it is good literature. It is a great story in that it is a great one to tell after a few beers.

When this happened, I was in my early twenties. In my twenties, I was a lot like middle-aged me, except that young me was more mild-mannered than older me. People who know me well would tell you that I can be reserved sometimes. If you wanted to calculate who I was when this tale occurred, simply deduct thirty-something years of experience and confidence from a low-key middle-aged guy. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mom Becomes A Murder Suspect

I recently read a reference to dropping a found drivers license in the mail to reunite it with its owner. If you wonder if this works, I can confirm that it does by recounting my mother’s brief stint as a murder suspect.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Nixon, who makes a cameo appearance in this story as a time reference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might remember that I am not convinced my mom didn’t kill Reverend Sun Myung Moon. She had the motive, though perhaps not the opportunity. This is a different event. I am certain that she did not kill this guy.

Pretty certain. Yup.


Wayback Machine

Let’s go back in time. Way back. I was in second grade. My brother was in kindergarten. Depending on your age you might call that time period the Pleistocene Era or the early years of the Nixon administration. Our family had just moved from Hoboken, New Jersey to Charleston, West Virginia for my father’s first assignment in his new job.

One day, Mom decided to walk downtown and meet Dad for lunch. She walked down the hill, then crossed a bridge over the Kanawha River. During that crossing, Mom became a “person of interest”. Read the rest of this entry »

Matisse’s Mom Might Disagree

It seemed to me that I ought to write something for Mothers Day, but that wasn’t going so well.

I took a break from being frustrated and remembered, mid-break, that I ought to call my Mom and let her know when I would stop by for a Mother’s Day visit. We talked about our days, and then she remembered that she had something she wanted to talk to me about.

On the way in to where she’d left herself a note, she asked if I’d ever seen Antiques Roadshow. I told her I had, but not today. “Someone was on with what looked like pencil drawings, but they were done by Picasso and …oh here’s my note…Picasso and Matisse. You know about them, right?” Read the rest of this entry »

I Did Not Shoot My Eye Out And I Like What I See

Yesterday, I was at my parents place for dinner.

Here is where the story goes back in time to the part that is spookily like the movie A Christmas Story.

Lets Go Back To 1969

Daisy Model 21

When I was in third grade, my dad got a new job. His first assignment was in Charleston, West Virginia. There were a lot of differences between Charleston and my previous home, Hoboken, New Jersey. Differences like I could play outside and I couldn’t see Manhattan. I was a kid, so I adapted and made friends.

One of the friends I made had a bb gun. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. What’s the best way to get the coolest stuff when you’re a kid? Ask for it for Christmas.

Well, that worked. My dad bought me a bb gun and put it under the tree. I later learned he did it over the objection of my mom and grandparents. It wasn’t just any bb gun, it was a double barrel gun. Even the coolest kid in the neighborhood had never heard of such a thing until I showed him my Daisy Model 21 Double Barrel bb gun.

My father showed me how to use it in the back yard. I used it to knock over cans and bottles across the yard. I never fired it toward any animals and I did not shoot my eye out.

Here comes the part where the story returns to yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Routine Minutes: A Long Distance Call

A little background on this one. While I was in college, my family moved away. I wrote about the sordid details here. You should go look, I’ll wait.
Welcome back. My mother and I had a conversation last week about my life in Maryland after the family had moved on to North Carolina. This was one of the stories I told her.

During the last year and a half of my time in college, I lived with a family who had a home a few miles from campus. They had a spare bedroom for rent. The university matched us up and it worked for both sides. Steve, Claire and their kids were very good to me.

They were really nice people.

This was in the early eighties, so there are a couple of things that are important to know. I shared the house phone, which was in the kitchen. This was in the pre-cell phone era, so I’d talk to my parents once a week or so. Long distance calls were expensive. I couldn’t afford many of them if I wanted to pay for things like school, rent, food and dates.

Also, I had a mustache. My mustache has nothing to do with the story. But, as a visual artist, I know that you’ll see the difference in how I portray myself in this post.

During this time, my grandfather was very ill. His time was short. I’d been to visit him and was back in school for about two weeks. My routine was back to normal, but grandpa and my mom were on my mind.

One morning, I slept in later than usual. There were no classes on my schedule until close to lunch time and I’d worked late the night before. The phone rang in the kitchen.

Claire answered it. I could hear her talking as I dozed. Then she called up the stairs – “Oma, your mom’s on the phone. Are you up?” My mind started racing as soon as she said it was my mom.

There was no doubt what this call was. I jumped out of bed, put on my glasses and zipped down stairs.

Claire knew about my grandfather’s condition. She handed me the phone, touched my arm and mouthed, “I’m sorry”. But when she did it, she had the oddest look on her face. It was almost like she was stifling a laugh.

I stood in the kitchen and consoled my mother over the phone. We discussed arrangements, then I went upstairs to take a shower. By the time I came back down, Claire had taken another call from my family and gotten my flight arrangements. She even offered to drop me off at the airport.

On the way to the airport, I had a disturbing realization. I was asleep when the phone rang. Claire called me and I jumped out of bed. There was something missing in that sequence. There was only one way to clear up my concern.

Was I wearing pants?

This horrified me. I offered to move out. Claire would have none of that. She told me she knew I would never have stood around in the kitchen in jockey shorts on purpose. When I came back home, she and Steve both went out of their way to make me feel welcome.

They also got in their share of jokes until the day I graduated.


Your Family Car Sticker Could Send The Wrong Message

Odds are, more than one of you have those cartoony family stickers on the back window of your car. I’m not sure how they became the trendy thing to have, but I wish the trend would pass.

I understand that people love their sons and daughters. I love mine, but I don’t know that putting a line drawing of him on my car is the best way to express it. In fact, I think sometimes expressing parental love by way of a sticker on a car can go wrong. Let’s look at an example. Read the rest of this entry »

If you give a dad a project…

Todd Pack – author, father, home improvement guru, renaissance man. What doesn’t he do? As best I can tell, he is not a barber. Beyond that, he does it all. Todd was kind enough to take a break from his blog and many duties to contribute a post during my Guest Post week. Get a sense of his writing here, then go read more. Then go buy his book.

Do you know the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? The idea is that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want some milk to go with it, and if you give a mouse a glass of milk, he’ll need a mirror to see whether he has a milk mustache, and on and on and on.

The idea is that one thing leads to another and another and another.

This is like that. Read the rest of this entry »

This Year Will be Different

Guest Post week roars on…and so does my marathon streak of work. I want this convention gone so that I can have time to write. I want this convention gone so my knees won’t hurt so badly. Enough whining. Part of today’s Guest Post Week roar comes from Kim, who writes her own blog, and co-writes another with today’s second author.  See what I did there? They write together so I put them up together on the same day. Bam.

DISCLOSURE:  The following is what works for my family, and what we have accepted only after thorough discussion with professionals.  I’m not a bit concerned about what somebody in Indiana or Alberta thinks about this topic.  Of course, everyone is welcome to comment but I am not looking to be lectured and if I feel I am, I will simply skip over your comment, leaving you with your right to free speech and me with my right to tune it out.

I’m writing this at least a week before you are reading it.  I have just returned home from Noah’s 7th grade orientation.  It’s not like last year where he needed to learn all about the school.  This year was just registering his locks to make sure they are the same, turning in his new emergency card and getting his schedule and locker spot.  All went smoothly until I said the wrong thing ‘very loudly’ to a friend right in front of her son, a friend of Noah’s since kindergarten.  Oh the lecture I got.  I forgot that moms of teens have to stick to the basics: How’s the weather, how’s the family, whatcha been doin’, see you at the next get-together (where we can talk while the kids are somewhere else and get down to the nitty gritty). Read the rest of this entry »