Friday, January 31, 2014

A Community We Call Home

I arrived home this afternoon and I'm really happy to be here.  Oklahoma is so different from here, and from the people to the topography, it is nothing like home.  When I left, Howard County was picking up the pieces after the Mall shooting.  Being away took away some of the sting.  I read through a number of local blogs to catch up and saw how much the community is still grieving.

I did not grow up in Howard County.  I'm a Prince George's County boy, born and bred.  My parents moved to Riverdale shortly after I was born, but needed a bigger house not too long after when my sister was born.  So we moved to Upper Marlboro when I was 4.  We settled into the community and lived there for the next 20 years.  It was a great place to grow up.  I'm sure Howard County was much like it.  I loved my childhood.  I had great friends, great schools, and a great neighborhood.

As I've documented here, my grandparents were killed in a car accident in 1987, and their deaths had a dramatic affect on my family.  My mother really struggled with losing her parents.  She needed a change.  A major life change.  She and Dad decided to begin looking at new homes.  I was a (commuter) student at the University of Maryland in College Park, and even though I was still living at home, I was in favor of the move.  My sister and brother weren't quite as enthusiastic, especially since it would result in them leaving the only home they had ever known (or could remember), and all of their friends.  Mom & Dad targeted southern Howard County.  The Scaggsville area reminded us of the community we would be leaving in Upper Marlboro, which was a cross of suburban and rural and cozy.  They found a neighborhood just off of Rt. 216 just west of I-95, and began having a house built.

Over the next several months, my parents would make trips out to Scaggsville to see how the house was coming along.  I made several trips, myself, since I could get there more quickly after classes at Maryland.  At one point, though, shortly after the foundation was poured, we noticed how steep the backyard was.  This was a problem.  Fill dirt had caused it to be practically unusable.  My father was livid, and complained to the builder.  The builder assured us that they could level it off so it wouldn't be as steep.  Soon, though, it became obvious that nothing could be done about it, and my parents again went to the builder and issued an ultimatum:  fix the backyard, or the deal was off.  The builder had not been truthful from the beginning, and they finally admitted it.  The deal was off, and we did not move.  It was a tough situation to deal with.  We had all reached the point where we were either happy with the move, or had accepted it, and now it wasn't happening.  Four years later, my parents did move, this time to Bowie, MD.

I met and married Teresa in 1999.  She was a teacher... in Howard County.  She taught Freshman English and a public speaking elective, and was a very popular teacher at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City.  A few years after we married, we bought our first house, also in Howard County.  Ironically, it was only a few miles away from the neighborhood where my parents almost bought their house.  When Reservoir High School was constructed, Teresa was one of the first teachers recruited to teach there.  The fact that it was right down the street was perfect.  It was a tough move for her, but she was excited to be a part of starting something new.  The school opened in the Fall of 2002.

We loved living in Howard County.  Teresa wanted her children to go to Howard County schools, which she believed were the best in the state.  I had always like Howard County, and since I had almost become a resident back in 1988, it was nice to finally finish that process and settle here.  Teresa stopped working after our daughter, Melody, was born in 2003.  Unfortunately, Teresa died of a massive heart attack on April 17, 2004, while we were all walking around outside Reservoir on a particularly warm Spring evening.

The community rallied behind us.  Mt. Hebron staff brought diapers and food, and Reservoir started a memorial fund which eventually became a scholarship in Teresa's name, and would be offered to one student each year that best exemplified what Teresa's definition of a well-rounded student should be.  Grace Community Church, aptly named, hosted her memorial service.  Grace would build a new church building just a few years later in the same area as the school.  We had started attending Grace in the Summer of 2003 based on the reputation the church had in the community.  Teresa, as a high school teacher, could see the affect Grace had on the students who attended and were active in the youth program there.  Teresa, armed with that information, was convinced Grace would be a great place for us to worship, and so it was.  I consider us so fortunate to have a church community like Grace's for my daughter to be a part of.

I've now lived here in Howard County for almost 13 years, and it's very likely I will surpass the 24 years I lived in Prince George's County.  There's a sense of pride that has developed in me since moving to Howard, and I'm happy to call it home.  It's my community.  It's my daughter's community.  And when tragedies occur in our community, it hurts.  So we look forward to being a part of the healing process that our community will go through and overcome.  This is home.  And we love our home.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reflections Of A Family Christmas

While I'm stuck in OK City, I found myself looking through a bunch of old pics on my iPhone.  They're not really old... A few weeks seems like old given the number of pictures I take, which is really easy with a cell phone.  Anyway, the pics are of Christmas with my family, and I'm already amazed by how many things I received and already forgotten.  That's pretty sad, really, but it was a nice reminder of a few things I can look forward to getting out of boxes when I get home!  Enjoy...and Merry Christmas!

My new favorite mug!

A Griswold Family Christmas

Yes, we're really going!

Dad? Yo, Dad!?! Hello???

My brother, The Steel Chef

My daughter and my sister


Melody and a LOT of really big gifts

A two-headed hat?!?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

OK City Again...

I'm suffering from separation anxiety.  I had to say goodbye to my daughter last night and I flew to Oklahoma City this morning.  This is a quarterly business trip that I have to take, and I dislike it a great deal.  I think I've made about 24 trips to OKC in the past five years, but I stopped counting at 10.

My daughter has a normal week of school, and she seems to handle these getaways better than I do.  We're fortunate to have so much family in the area, so I'll have a house-sitter and baby-sitter while I'm away, and she won't miss a beat.

I, on the other hand...well, I don't take well to these trips.  I hate being away from home against my wishes, and I really hate being away from my daughter. But it's necessary and required due to this job of mine.

So I'm in OK City all week, and regular posts will be kind of disrupted until I get home.

Hope everyone has a great evening.  Hug your loved ones. You can't do it enough!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Shooting Leaves Me With A Loss For Words

Today's events have left me with a loss for words.  The shooting at the Mall in Columbia was a sad, disappointing, and terrible thing, and the fact that it has happened in our community has hit hard.  This is my home, and I'm tired of it being harmed by those who don't seem to care.  There is no place for this kind of violence, here or anywhere else.  It's a sad trend, as there have been so many shootings like this one throughout our country.

I'll be praying this evening for peace, understanding, and and end to this kind of violence.  I'm praying for the families of those who lost loved ones today in the shooting.  I'm praying for the safety of our young people in this community.  I'm praying for the continued protection of our police and security people, and I'm thankful that they are here to help and protect the community.  And I'm praying for God's continued presence in our lives, as He is still in charge.

Rest easy this evening, Howard County.  May you look to Him for comfort.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Girlfriends of Widowers

I was reading a blog this evening from a man who experienced the death of his wife, and was on the healing road and in a new relationship.  The blog entry centered on the "hostility" (in quotes because I don't think it's intentional hostility) that seems to exist from those women who decide to date and/or marry a widower (known colloquially as WOWs or GOWs -- Wives or Girlfriends of Widowers).  If you care to read the blog, here is the link.  I find the subject fascinating, since I am a widower, especially as I am trying to make that step from grieving husband to new relationship.  For me, it will be ten years in April since Teresa died suddenly due to a massive heart attack.  I've shared the story here on my own blog several times, which you can read all about here.

I hadn't realized just how difficult it might be for a woman to date me.  The "baggage" I've accumulated as a result of being married before is one thing, but to include the years of grief, the years of depression, a young daughter, a family of in-laws, and still living in the same house my wife and I purchased over 12 years ago, all of it must be completely overwhelming to someone who I just met and might like to date me.  How does one deal with all of that?  Is it fair for me to bring all of this to the table of a potential relationship?

That's where this "hostility" comes from.  The widower may find it difficult to to get past much of this stuff, or even if they do, or think they do, there's still the GOW who has to confront this same stuff and decide whether it's worth it to enter into a potential relationship with the widower.  There's a competition that exists, whether the widower sees it or not, between the GOW and the dead wife.  If the widower has any unresolved feelings for the dead wife, that's going to be an issue for the GOW.  Even pictures, or personal belongings that may be in the widower's home that belonged to the dead wife, are going to be issues.  The widower may not think anything of them, but I guarantee the GOW will.

I dated a wonderful young lady a few years ago.  The relationship was quite serious, and we were discussing marriage.  There are a number of factors involved in why the relationship didn't work out, in particular the fact she lived in Oklahoma and I lived here in Maryland, but early on, she had a very hard time with the fact that I had pictures of my dead wife still sitting out.  We had already started "pre-marriage" counseling, and the subject came up during one of our sessions.  I reasoned that the pictures were there for my daughter's benefit, not mine.  I believed it was important that my daughter know and be reminded of who her mother was.  The girlfriend said she understood, but she didn't like it.  She asked me to "sanitize" the house by getting rid of anything that had either belonged to my wife, or reminded us of her.  In fact, we planned to move to a new house upon getting married.  In addition, she wanted me to begin making lifestyle changes, such as changing churches, before we got married.  This was especially hard, since my daughter and I were fairly involved in our church.  I dragged my feet, and she got angry.  I figured it would better to just wait until she moved here and we could find a church together.  She disagreed, and it came up that she didn't like that we went to a church that my wife and I attended together, and she wanted me to immediately look for a different church for us to attend.  I just didn't understand why this was so important to her.  I still don't.  I mean, I do, but it just seemed like she was being insensitive.  My attending our church had more to do with me and my daughter, not with my dead wife.  But she wanted our relationship to be all about us, including where we attended church, and that meant eliminating everything having a connection to my wife.

I now realize that this is one of those things that WOWs and GOWs struggle with.  It may not have anything to do with me, the widower, but the GOW is going to want to feel special.  These changes are going to be important, and communication is going to have to be there.  It's going to be hard for me, as a widower, to shut off that part of my life.  And it will be hard.

I hope I will be able to find someone understanding of my previous life, just as I hope that I will be able to make that someone understand that they are special and our relationship is unique to us.  It's something I pray about regularly.  I believe God will help make the relationship work, if it's meant to be.

There is much more I can write about this subject, but I'm going to stop here.  Stay tuned.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Survey, Dating, Scout, and Stress...Just Another Day

If you read yesterday's blog, I posted a survey.  It was really meant to be an attempt at being funny, but I'm not sure just how funny it really was.  I admit to being very tired as I typed it out, and it may have been a poor attempt at humor.  Thank you for indulging me, and for those that took the time to take the survey and answer the questions, thank you.  The information you provided will go a long way towards helping me figure out who is reading this blog and why.


Nothing new to report on the dating front.  I'm still waiting for that one woman to jump out of the pack and make an impression on me, or for any I've contacted to write back, or...well, something.  I go through this every six months or so, and it becomes the same game each time.  I lose more and more of my nerve to date when I got through this.  It's disappointing in some ways, and it does affect my own confidence in myself, to some degree, to the point that I become too intimidated to contact some of these women who really seem to know what they want, to the exclusion of anyone else.  I understand that they probably get flooded with unwanted attention from guys who absolutely do not meet their criteria, but sometimes they scare away guys who may come close, but due to the way the write their profile, I'm not sure I'd even want to try.

I went on a date a few years ago with a girl on a dating site where the young lady went on a rant about how every guy she went out with ended up not being her type.  I looked over her profile and she had set no criteria for the type of guy she wanted to date.  It was, pretty much, if you've got a pulse and hair, you're good to go.  But that wasn't good enough for her once she got you out on a date.  She never told me that I didn't fit her criteria, but I didn't go on a second date with her.

It's true that you need to really specify what kind of person you're looking for on these sites.  It makes finding someone a bit easier.  But there are still those people who truly believe they fit that criteria when they don't, and test the water anyway.  So I guess it's okay to be picky in your profile write ups.  And then, if you get past the "bouncer" at the door, maybe you'll really make a connection.

And maybe I'll win the next PowerBall lottery without buying a ticket.


Faithful Pup Scout returned home this morning after almost a week with my parents.  I really missed her.  I don't like to admit that to loudly.  Scout is a cute little 10-pound white ball of fur of Maltese pup, and she is hardly the epitome of a manly dog.  I always tell people she's my wife's dog, which is true.  Teresa wanted a Maltese after meeting my Aunt's two Maltese pups before we got married, and after we bought our first home, we brought Scout home.  Teresa died a little over two years later, and Scout became MY dog.  And she loves me, just as much as I love her.  She's a comfort to me.  She's getting up there in age, and she's having her issues.  She doesn't get around very well, and she sleeps most of the time.  But she has her routines and she definitely is happier here at home than when she's elsewhere.  Though she is content to be at my parent's, she tends to mope and act sad when she's with them.  Then she goes nuts when she sees me after we've been apart for awhile.  She was noticeably happy to be home today.  And I was happy to have her.


I used to enjoy my Fridays at work, but tomorrow is just another in a string of stressful week ending days at the office.  I don't like to go into details about my job here on the blog, but I will say that my level of responsibility has greatly increased in recent days, and some of the issues I'm dealing with have taken me way out of my comfort zone.  That said, tomorrow I have to lead a large group of employees through a planning session that I have very little knowledge about, and I will be put on the spot.  That's never easy, and being the introvert that I am, I'm not looking forward to it.  So I've spent the afternoon worrying, which is stupid, I know, since there's nothing I can do about it right now.  I keep trying to come up with ways I can get out of it that don't involve bodily harm to myself, or require me to lie, which I refuse to do ("My dog ate my homework" just won't cut it).  So it looks like I'm on the hook.  I hope the weekend provides relief.

With that, I hope you all have a wonderful evening.  Good night!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Survey Says...!

After writing this blog for the last several years, I'm very curious to find out more about you, the reader.  With that in mind, I've put together the following optional survey.  If you would please assist me by answering the following questions and posting them as a comment, I'd greatly appreciated it.  You may answer verbally, if you prefer, but that's optional.  If you have no interest in answering any of the questions, well.... that's okay, too.  You may still read the blog.  Thanks!

1.  Please state your name.

2.  What is your age?

3.  What age do you feel like?

4.  Are you a regular reader of this blog?

5.  If you are not a regular reader of this blog, why are you reading it now?

6.  If you write a blog, would you share a link to it here?

7.  What is your best friend's mother's name?

8.  Which shoe do you put on first?

9.  Are you left handed?  If so, do you bat right handed?

10.  What is the strangest talent you possess?

11.  Have you ever been tied up?  Do you want to be?

12.  How many different eye colors do you have?

13.  What is your favorite flavor of fruit?  Veggie?

14.  At a movie theater, which arm rest is yours, the right or the left?

15.  What is your favorite planet?

16.  If you're staying in a room with two beds, which one do you sleep on?

17.  Who is your favorite fictional character?

18.  Who is your favorite non-fictional character?

19.  What is your favorite age that you've been so far?

20.  Are you smarter than the average bear?

21.  Do you consider yourself a talker or a listener?

22.  How many of each animal did Moses take on the ark?

23.  Which celebrity do you most look like?

24.  Which celebrity would you want to play you in a movie about you?

25.  Do you wear a ponytail in your hair?

26.  What number do you most look like?

27.  What letter best describes you?

28.  Do you have a pet?  If yes, what kind?

29.  Do you walk to work or carry your lunch?

30.  Please do not take this survey at all seriously, and pass your answers to the person on your left.

Thank you!  You're awesome!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I love snow days!  This was a great day, with lots of snow, and schools were closed, and the Federal Government shut down...  It turned into a fun day.  Once I found out the government was closed, I got a few extra hours of sleep.  I decided to get out of bed at 8:30.  There was no snow outside at all, and I was concerned about the public perception of the government closing for no reason.

I watched the morning news and ate some breakfast.  I had a few things recorded on the Tivo to watch, but, while doing my morning reading of the blogs, I came across Mark Evanier's blog about the new Criterion DVD of IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, #17 on my list of favorite movies.  It was due to be released today.  I had already pre-purchased it from Amazon several weeks ago, and sort of forgot about it.  I looked up the tracking number and it said it was delivered.  So I went to the front door, and there it was!  Hot dog!  Now I knew what I'd be doing today!

The snow arrived about an hour or so later, and it came down fast.  I decided that I had better go to the store and get a few supplies, since we really didn't have much in the house after being away all weekend.  The grocery store was much more crowded than I imagined.  I figured everything was pretty much shut down, but the store was hopping.  I got what I needed and headed home.

I popped in the DVD and watched MAD WORLD.  I've seen this movie dozens of times, but this edition is the most complete since it was first released in 1963.  Directed by Stanley Kramer, the movie is a comedic tour de force, starring a who's who of comedy stars over entertainment history.  And aside from the stars, it had cameos from just about every other comedian in Hollywood at the time.  Spencer Tracy was the main star, and the only actor in the movie without a comedy background.  Other stars include Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, and Jonathan Winters.  Others with cameos include Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Peter Falk, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Stan Freburg, Buster Keaton, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, and The Three Stooges.

When it was released, it clocked in at 202 minutes.  It was trimmed down substantially shortly after, and much of the cut footage had disappeared.  This edition of the movie includes much of this missing footage, and it was a lot of fun to see.  I first saw the movie when I was a kid, and it I really enjoyed it.  It obviously made an impression on me.  The story is about a guy who committed a robbery many years ago, and he crashes his car way out in the desert of Southern California.  A group of strangers witness the crash, and talk to the guy, played by Jimmy Durante, just before he dies.  He tells them about all this money that's buried under a "big 'W'".  The police show up, but the strangers decided not to say anything about the money to the police.  Soon, however, they decide it might be for real, and it becomes a race to get to the money first.  What ensues is craziness, as all of the characters make their way to where the money is supposedly buried, with the cops all monitoring them.  While there is a lot of slapstick, the movie is hilarious because of the comedy genius of the stars.  It's awesome!

The movie's length adds to the epic feel.  The Criterion edition is well worth the price, and I highly recommend it.  Check it out if you get the chance.

Enjoy the snow!  Have a great evening, everyone!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Matching Issues/Super Bowl Match-up

I've been on the latest online dating site for a little over a week now and I'm not having the kind of luck I expected.  Actually, I guess it IS what I've come to expect.  The only women that seem to be interested in me are the exact opposite of who I'm looking for.  It's almost like a bad joke.  I've laid out in my profile who I'm looking for, and it's as if these women are completely ignoring it.  I just can't figure it out.  Then there are the ones that I am attracted to.  I've attempted to contact nine women who fit the criteria that I'm looking for in a match.  Not one has returned the communication.

I'm a fairly intelligent guy.  I'm not ugly.  I'm above average, in my opinion.  Yes, I have my issues, but I'm not advertising them.  I've been told by women whose opinions I respect that I'm a catch.  Heck, I've been married, happily married, in fact, though I've got that widower stigma attached to me.  I'm a father, so I'm not scared of kids.  What is there that's not to like?

So I'm second guessing everything.  Maybe it is the widower stigma.  Maybe it is the fact that I'm a father.  Is it the facial hair?  Do my ears stick out to far?  Are my eyes too squinty?  Are my feet too big?  Is it because I bite my nails during sporting events?  Is it because I'm a Pittsburgh sports fan?  Am I just too picky???

I don't know anymore.  Sadly, I've paid for a six-month subscription, so I'm going to have to live with this until July... or consider it a loss.  Look out, ladies!


Though I didn't get the chance to watch either of the championship games yesterday, I was happy with the results.  I'm not exactly a big Broncos fan, nor do I care for the Seahawks.  But Super Bowl match-ups are measured by the team's success in the Big Game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers record six Super Bowl wins.  The 49ers have been sitting at 5 wins for quite a long time, but I certainly don't want to see them tying the Steelers record.  The Patriots have had a lot of success over the past dozen years, and they are one of the Steelers hated rivals, so I don't want them winning, either.  The Broncos won a few Super Bowls in the 90s, and the Seahawks played in one but lost to my Steelers, so seeing these two teams play, and knowing one has to win, will have almost zero impact on the Steelers record.

With all of that established, I'm rooting for the Broncos since I'm an AFC guy.  I actually like Peyton Manning as a player, though I think he's totally over-saturated in the media.  He's the pitch man for everything from pizza to banking.  He's practically the face of the NFL.  The Broncos have an exciting offense and you get the feeling they should be able to move the ball against just about any team.

I still don't care for the Seahawks, even though the Steelers beat them back in Super Bowl XL, in January, 2006.  It's the fact that the Seahawks team, coach, and fans still blame the officials for their loss in that game.  They still complain about it. They totally discount the Steelers play in that game, and the fact that the game wasn't even close for most of it, regardless of the officiating.  I hope the officials call a great game and the Broncos win big.  Maybe that will put it to rest.

So I'm off to bed, hoping for a blizzard tomorrow!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Driving in a Blizzard

We awoke this morning to blizzard-like conditions.  It was snowing to beat the band, and the wind was howling.  We checked out of the Sleep Inn in Johnstown, PA, made our way to Denny's for breakfast, and prepared our agenda for the day.  We originally thought we would visit the Johnstown Flood Museum, not to be confused with the Johnstown Flood Memorial, which we visited yesterday.  The Museum, though, turned out to be closed on Sunday.  Plan B would be a visit to the Flight 93 Memorial, just down the road near Somerset.

We stopped at Walmart for a few supplies, then headed south to the Lincoln Highway, and ten miles east to the memorial site.  It's a sobering place, fitting right in with the rest of our "dark" weekend (Johnstown flood and dead Hollywood star Jimmy Stewart).  It's essentially a large field with a series of information boards containing information about what occurred on 9/11/2001, and in particular, the fate of Flight 93, which went down here after the passengers and crew decided to try to stop the terrorists who had hijacked the plane.  The site looked like a frozen wasteland, with snow drifting all over the road, the wind blowing, and overcast skies.  We got out and walked around, but it was intensely cold, and we made our visit a short one.

The rest of our day, and our trip, was not really planned.  We decided to go visit my aunt and cousin in Uniontown, PA, my father's hometown, about an hour or so west and completely out of our way, but we were in no hurry to end the trip quite yet.  We ended up on a lot of back roads, which our GPS, "Michelle", seems to prefer, so though we were making good time, we had to be careful since the roads were not in the best of shape.  In addition, there were plenty of people driving excessively slow on these roads.  We finally arrived at my Aunt's place at around 2:30.  She was happy to see us, and fed us lots of good, home-cooked goodies, like veggie soup and pepperoni rolls, plus peanut butter fudge.  We felt bad about our short visit and eating up her food, but she claimed it was worth it to see us.  Then we began the long trek home.

Shortly after entering Maryland, just past Frostburg, the snow completely cleared out and we had smooth sailing all the way.  We stopped in Hancock, the traditional halfway point of the trip from Uniontown to home, and had dinner at the old Park 'n' Dine restaurant, one of our favorites.  My family has been stopping here since the 60s.  Unfortunately, the food was not very good.  I always get the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy on top of everything.  The stuffing, though, looked like it had been sitting out all day, and the turkey was all dark meat.  The fact that the restaurant would be closing about an hour after we arrived might have something to do with poor food, but I was disappointed.  We continued down the road after eating, and we arrived home at around 9:30, tired and happy to be home.

We're thankful the Lord gave us a wonderful trip, despite the questionable weather and not being able to do much of what we had planned to do, but the snow was awesome, and there is a bit of comfort associated with traveling in adverse weather.  Don't ask me why.  I was also very pleased with our new Jeep.  It ran great, and the weather ended up being the best test for it.  I was happy with how it handled, and I never felt worried or uncomfortable while driving it.  It's a solid 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jimmy Stewart's Hometown, Indiana, PA

My daughter and I spent the day at the Johnstown Flood Memorial, a rather depressing place which details the flood that wiped out the town in 1889. There is a short film that shows what happened on that fateful day.

After spending the morning in 19th Century Western PA, we went to 20th Century Hollywood in Indiana, PA, the hometown of my favorite actor of all time... Jimmy Stewart! It was a great time as we made the best of a snowy, cold Winter Day.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Frigid Trip

On vacation... Left Faithful Pup Scout and Macy the Hamster with our house sitter and made our way into the mountains of the Frigid North and encountered SNOW!

Love Western PA!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Skiing is Stupid

My daughter and I are planning to do a winter sports activity this weekend:  snow tubing!  We've been doing this for several years now, and it's a blast.  It's also relatively safe compared to another popular winter sports activity:  snow skiing.  We're going snow TUBING.  Big difference.  Much safer.  Possibility of injury snow skiing:  98%; possibility of injury snow tubing:  65%.  Statistics are my own approximations, through personal experience, and may equal +/- 50 percentage points.  But it doesn't matter.  The fact is, I find tubing much safer.

I went skiing about 18 years ago at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania.  They were running a special deal that included ski rentals, lesson, and all-day lift ticket for a really cheap price for mid-week.  A group of colleagues at work had been doing this for a while, and they talked me into going.  I had never skied in my life.  They promised me it would be easy and I'd love it.

The day came, and I volunteered to drive a few of us up, though there were, all told, about 15 of us going.  Rick and John rode with me.  I got my skis, had all of my winter gear on, and headed outside of the locker room, where I met with a few of my colleagues.  I had missed the start of the lesson, and instead of waiting around for an hour until the next one, several of our group said I didn't need a lesson; they could easily teach me the basics and I'd be off and running.  I listened to them and believed them.  That was my fault.  And that was the end of my good time.

They took me over to the lift for the bunny slope.  I had been getting around okay up to that point, but I was on level ground.  The lift took me and Scott to the top of the slope, and as I got off the lift, I promptly fell forward onto my face into the snow.  I realized then that this wasn't the soft fluffy snow I had grown up with and knew.  This was rather hard, icy, and, well.... fake.  After those around me got a good laugh at my expense and ineptitude, I got up and made my way over to the slope.  Without a single word of encouragement or guidance, I watched all of my friends skate off down the hill.  I was by myself, and I didn't know what to do.  So I started down the hill.

Now, there are a few things I learned later that would have helped me a great deal at that moment.  One was how to control my speed.  Another was how to stop.  Yet another was how to fall correctly without hurting myself.  All of these, or even one of these, would have been great to know.  As I started down the hill, I knew none of these.  I started to immediately pick up speed, to the point that I knew I was going to lose control.  I could kind of steer, if I thought about it, but I wasn't thinking much as I reached an unsafe speed.  I started to lose my balance, and I fell face first, doing what might be called a face plant followed by a belly flop.  As I hit the ice (I won't call it snow), my legs went in 18 different directions, with one ski flying off my boot and passing me.  I was told this was the wrong way to fall (I didn't know at the time there was a "correct" way to fall).  Anyway, one of my friends, who had been following me, helped me get up and told me I was doing great.  I had to remove my remaining ski just to stand up.  Then I had to retrieve my other ski, and once I got them together, I snapped my boots in place to do it again.

And, again, I started down the hill.  I started picking up speed.  I got out of control.  And I did another face plant/bell flop on the ice, with my legs flying around me.  This time, my knee got twisted into a position it wasn't meant to go in, after my ski tip got stuck in the ice and I dragged it about 20 feet.  This was getting old very quickly.  But I still had a long way to go to the bottom of the hill.  As old as it got, I still ended up falling about 15 more times till I literally hit rock bottom.  I proceeded to take off the skis, go back to the rental shop and I turned it all in.  I was done.  Finished.  I had met the enemy, and it was a pair of skis, a hill, and a field of icy, hard mush.  My colleagues ran over to me and couldn't believe I was quitting already.  I was in a lot of pain, and I wasn't having any fun at all.  After one hour, I was done.

It was at that moment that Rick and John asked me if this meant I was leaving, since I had given them a ride there.  I couldn't make them leave.  Our original plan was to be there through the evening.  So I said, no, I'd stick around.  I ended up sitting in the restaurant/bar area at the resort for most of the day.  Fortunately, they took lots of breaks, so I only had a few hours of being by myself.  Most of the group were disappointed I had had a bad experience, and they said they wished I had given it another try.  I told them a lesson probably would've helped, but my knees and legs had already taken too much of a beating.  I wouldn't be skiing anymore that day, or ever again.  To this day, I have no desire to ever get on skis.

Tubing is a different story.  I'll share that one at another time.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Date With A Twist

I had been dating Teresa for about five months, and we had developed a comfortable relationship.  We were going out a few times a week, and doing social stuff, like going out with friends as a couple, as well as the mundane, like grocery shopping.  Teresa still shared her apartment in Laurel with her friend from college, Kristen, and I was living with my cousin, Dan, in Montgomery Village.  It was tough because we were almost an hour away from each other, and farther during rush hour.  We valued our time together, as a result, and I took advantage of my parents living in Bowie, since it was so much closer to Laurel, and would crash at their place on weekends.  Our relationship was getting serious.

For whatever reason, we had gone through a stretch where we hadn't seen each other in over a week.  In fact, we had had a disagreement about the differences in our churches, and for the first time, I wasn't sure what to do.  That's how I knew we were serious.  We were talking about the really detailed, real life, long term, super important stuff.  Anyway, I realized that the love and respect that had developed and increased between us was strong enough to overcome a lot of the stuff we were concerned about, and though we hadn't come to an agreement, and knew we had to, we weren't going to break up over something that could be worked out.  So I made plans to surprise her at her apartment with dinner (home made pizza -- I was going to make it).

I went to the store and got all of the ingredients, then sped over to her place.  When I arrived, the parking lot in front of her building was blocked.  They had just paved it and re-striped it, and they weren't allowing any cars to park there.  That meant I had to park in a different parking lot.  It also meant that I didn't know if Teresa was even home.  Keep in mind, this was 1998, and I didn't have a cell phone.  While she did have one, we weren't on the phone with each other constantly, and we certainly weren't texting each other.  I had no way of knowing whether she was home, out for the evening, or if she just hadn't gotten home yet from work.  Remember, this was a surprise.  I found a place to park, but I was several buildings away from hers.  I decided to leave all of the food in my car, just in case she wasn't home.  I had bought flowers for her, and I trekked over to her place.  I knocked on the door, and, hello!!!  She was home!  I gave her a big "Surprise!" and handed her the flowers.  She was so excited to see me.  We hugged and kissed and I told her I had dinner for us, back in the car.  She said that was great, she's put her flowers in water while I ran back to get the food.

I was feeling pretty good about having surprised her, and I skipped back up the stairs of her building to the parking lot.  Just as I reached the top step, my foot landed on the edge of the sidewalk, turning my ankle, and I went down in a heap.  I was in severe pain.  I honestly didn't know if it was just twisted, or if I broke something.  It just hurt.  I finally got my wits about me and I examined my foot.  There didn't appear to be any broken bones, but I couldn't put any weight on it.  I was able to struggle to a stand, and I hopped back down the steps to Teresa's apartment.  She quickly answered and started to say, "Wow, that was quick!"  But then she noticed the pained expression on my face and realized something was wrong.  I tried to say something humorous, like "I just took a little trip," but it didn't come out very funny.  She helped me in to the couch, and I explained to her what happened.  She wanted to take me to the hospital.  I kept saying no, that it was okay, I just needed to rest it for a few minutes.  She helped me wrestle my shoe off, though I almost went through the ceiling, if was so painful.  She placed a pillow on the coffee table for me to rest my leg on.  I couldn't touch my foot or ankle, not even with the pillow.

She got an ice pack for me and we tried to figure out what to do.  My little romantic evening was officially twisted (ha!) into a nightmare.  I went from wanting to surprise her and make dinner, to being a patient and making her do all the work.  She decided she had better hike out to my car to get the food.  She didn't even know where I parked, so I had to try to explain it to her.  She found it, then came back, then she had to make dinner.  The pain had subsided a little bit, but it was clear I needed to get medical attention.  We ate, then I told her I had better get home.  I promised her I would get it checked out if it was still bothering me in the morning.  She helped me get to my car, then I realized I might have a little bit of trouble.... I had a five-speed manual.  I needed both feet to drive, one for the accelerator, and the other for the clutch.  It was my right ankle.  Teresa was immediately worried about me, and she started to volunteer to drive me home.  I assured her I could do it.  I would be okay.  It was starting to get dark, and I didn't want her to continue to be outside (she lived in a rough neighborhood, really).  I said goodbye, hopped in the car, and started for home.  At first, I wasn't sure how it was going to work.  I really struggled with the pedals until I got up to speed.  Once I got on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and got up to speed, I could set the cruise control and pretty much stay at speed until I got to Montgomery Village.  That's what I did.

It was late when I got home, so I took some pain meds, hobbled into bed, and tried to sleep.  My ankle just throbbed.  I couldn't even put a blanket, or a sheet, on it, it hurt so bad.  I just laid there, with my leg half hanging off the bed, trying to get some sleep.  I was miserable.  I regretted not going to the hospital earlier.  I started to wonder how I was going to work the next day.  At 2 a.m., and not getting any sleep at all, I determined I would NOT be going to work.  The next day showed no improvement.  In fact, my ankle was swelled up like a marshmallow.  I called my boss and told her what happened.  I was embarrassed.  She laughed, but then lectured me about not getting medical help.  I had to wait until 9 a.m., but then I called my doctor, and he agreed to see me that morning.  His office was all the way out in Crofton, and as hard as it was to drive the night before, it was just as hard that morning.  He couldn't take x-rays, but he believed it was a sprain, and referred me to a specialist for an MRI.  The results of the MRI showed there were no broken bones.  Whew!

But my ankle continued to bother me for several months.  I had been playing street hockey with a bunch of guys from work, and had to quit playing while it healed.  My poor girlfriend went from having a nice, surprise romantic evening to having to play nursemaid and cook.  She got over it, fortunately.  I let her do all of the driving for a while when we were together, but it had to be in her car, since she couldn't drive a stick.

I learned my lesson.  Never skip up the stairs, no matter how happy you might be.  To this day, whenever the humidity gets a little high, that ankle starts to ache.  I can usually tell if it's going to rain.  Give me a call if you need a weather forecast.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Scary Movies

I have a love-hate relationship with horror movies.  In fact, as I've gotten older, it has become more of a hate-hate relationship.  When I was younger, though old enough by my parent's standards to watch them, I liked horror movies, but they always scared me.  My mother enjoyed watching them, and she sometimes let me say up to watch them with her.  It started with some of the movies that are deemed classic horror movies, such as PSYCHO, or JAWS.  To me, they ended up scaring me more by reputation than what actually appeared on the screen.  PSYCHO was scary just because it was a Hitchcock film.  I actually read the Peter Benchley novel before seeing JAWS, and the book was frightening, probably more than the movie, though the movie did keep me from wanting to go to the beach.

I was a funny kid, though.  I still wanted to watch these movies.  It was as if I wanted to be scared.  I was fascinated by the old 50s sci-fi movies, and loved watching them, but never really found them scary.  Horror movies were different, though.  I watched the AMITYVILLE HORROR and it about scared me out of a week's sleep.  ROSEMARY'S BABY was another that frightened me, particularly due to its satanic overtones.  TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which I saw at a party, scared me more for its reputation, but it was scary, too.  All of the teens in the room watching the movie teased each other about being scared, and some pretended they weren't, but it scared them.

The scariest movie of all was THE EXORCIST.  I don't even know why I watched it, but it was the one that began turning me away from horror movies.  Again, the subject matter made it scarier to me, since demon possession seems a little more real like with the satanism is ROSEMARY'S BABY.  It got worse from there.  I saw POLTERGEIST with the whole family, and it scared me like nothing else I'd ever seen.  THE SHINING scared me, too.  It wasn't the slasher style movies that were scaring me.  It was the ghost stories, or anything dealing with demons or possession, that got to me.

You would think, as a Christ-follower, that I would know better than to let myself be scared by these stupid movies, and that I would just stop watching them.  But, no, I kept watching them, and it got worse as Hollywood perfected its craft.  THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE was spooky and atmospheric.  Then there was PET SEMETERY.  I had read Stephen King's novel, and it scared me like nothing else I've ever read, but the movie made it worse (since it wasn't a particularly good movie, either).  THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY scared me so much, I couldn't watch them alone, and they may be the ones that keep me from seeing any others.  I actually called my brother while I watched PARANORMAL ACTIVITY through to the end because I knew he had seen it and he talked me through it.  This was just a few years ago.

I didn't want my little girl to watch these kinds of movies, so I've kept her from watching them.  It's funny, though, how history will repeat itself.  My daughter has gravitated to scary shows on TV, like SLEEP HOLLOW, which is a pretty scary show, and I've caught her watching them without my permission.  She scares herself watching them, too, but that doesn't stop her.  She's just like me.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Special Gift

On Christmas Eve, I received an awesome present from my daughter.  I didn't know it, but she had been rehearsing a song at my in-laws church while she was staying with them, and, to our whole family's surprise, she sang it on Christmas Eve during the service.  I cried like a baby.  She did such a great job.  She had never shown any interest in singing, let alone in public, and it blew me away.

So, tonight, as the typical "proud daddy", I want to share her video, so here she is, singing "Happy Birthday Jesus".  Please forgive my bragging...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

11 Facts, 11 Q&A's, and 11 Bloggers

A fellow blogger linked my blog to her post with the following questions on it, so I decided to follow her lead and do the same.  Enjoy!

Share 11 random facts about yourself
  1. I'm a widower, and have been for almost 10 years.  I was married for less than half that, almost 5 years.
  2. I played in the Orange Bowl and at the Carrier a member of the Mighty Sound Of Maryland Marching Band.
  3. Best job perk ever was a 2 1/2 hour helicopter ride with the Los Angeles Police Dept. all over LA, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.
  4. My favorite movie of all time is IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  My favorite actor is Jimmy Stewart.
  5. I've driven to 41 US states and 5 Canadian provinces.
  6. I've never lived there, but Pittsburgh is my favorite city.  I plan to retire there.
  7. My grandfather, who was a professional trumpet player, had Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis among his fans.
  8. I was in a bad car accident at age 18 in which my grandparents were killed, and I was pulled out of the burning car by my father.  I had a head injury in the accident that affects my short-term memory to this day (25 years later).
  9. I am a diehard Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins fan.
  10. I love Godzilla and other Japanese giant monster movies.
  11. I am a Christ-follower, and trust Him as my Savior.  I attend Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD.  It's a great place to be!

Answer 11 questions

What was your favorite food when you were a child?  Pizza was and still is my favorite food.  I consider myself a pizza connoisseur.  I used to make the Chef-Boy-R-Dee pizzas for dinner every Friday for my family while growing up.

What's the #1 most played song on your iPod?  I don't have an iPod, but the most listened to song I have is TAKE FIVE by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

What is one of your favorite quotes?  Aside from many Bible verses, one of my favorite quotes is, "No man is a failure who has friends," Clarence the Angel, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

What's your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?  Indoor:  watching sporting events/playing fantasy sports; outdoor:  Road trips!

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?  Jesus; Abe Lincoln; my grandfather, Chester "Pap" Freed.

If you could witness any event past, present, or future, what would it be?  As horrible as it was, I wish I could be there in the moments before my wife died.  I would pay so much more attention to every detail, and every word shared between us.  Though I remember much of that moment, I was in too much shock to really remember the details.

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?  Usually, I check the Tivo to see if there is anything worth watching in those 30 minutes; otherwise, I'd check my iPhone for emails, etc., or read something online.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?  The same as my blog:  "Away From the Things of Man."

What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up?  Every year, I go to the AFI Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring just before Christmas and see IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and every time I see it, I get teary-eyed.

What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?  I was the good kid growing up (my younger sister and brother hated me because of it), and I rarely ever got into trouble.

Where IS Waldo?  He's in a small town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

List 11 bloggers - You should check out these blogs:

Village Green/Town Squared, whose author posted a link to my blog from hers and provided the questions I answered, above, is a regular reader and commenter of my blog.  She loves her community, and it comes out in her writing.
The Adventures of Tom and Atticus - If you love dogs, you'll love this blog about a man and his dogs in the mountains of New Hampshire.
Writing Ruth - Written by a dear friend from school (Kindergarten thru high school), Ruth is a professional writer based in Southern California.
That's Church - Written by wonderfully funny Pittsburgh native Virginia Montanez, it's all about her love for her city.
Mr. Garner Goes To Washington - Written by my friend and prayer-partner, Rick Garner; he's a pretty good writer, too.
Flexible Dreams - If it wasn't for Amy, I wouldn't be blogging regularly.  Her influence and writing inspired me to write regularly.  She is a very funny, very intelligent young lady and great mom.
Blessed Family Chaos - Michelle is another of my influences.  Like Amy, I wish she would write more often.  Her faith is inspiring.  And she's a great mom, too.
The Matt Walsh Blog - Rather than describe, let me just say that this is a blog worth reading.  Every post makes me think.
Dejan Kovacevic - Best sports writer, period.  And I'm not saying that because he's a Pittsburgh sports writer.
Sean's Ramblings - Sean is the first blogger to reach out to me by linking my blog on his.  His is a fun read with a Pittsburgh slant.  Good stuff.
Baron Batch - Tremendously talented young man who grew up in West Texas; former Steelers' running back turned artist and salsa maker.  He is an awesome writer, as well.

Friday, January 10, 2014

It Makes Sense To Me...

For his part, Eric felt jubilant that what had started as a long shot had produced a triumph.  A medium-size loaf of bread sent by Elaine contained chisels, mallets, a hacksaw, and an enormous sledgehammer.  And then, after the soup, Dad decided it was time to tell one of his jokes.  Now he's not talking to me so we don't know exactly what happened to him.  When he broke for lunch, it was usually at the Cosmos Club, an exclusive, all-male fraternity of political and industry leaders on Lafayette Square, where he continued his quiet, persistent lobbying amid cigar smoke and wood paneling.  The doctor brought in to explain the murders had no idea how or what was killing the men in the mine, nor could any doctor cure Shigeru of his amnesia.  He was sidelined for nearly three months after breaking his collarbone when he fell while carrying a slab of deer meat.

The two leaders beamed and shook hands warmly.  Larry put an enormous wad of ether-soaked cotton into a toilet plunger and stuck the whole thing over the gunslinger's face.  He thought for a moment and then said, "Tell her, 'Thanks for the nuts; hope you're the same.'"  A minute later, the relief first officer, who had been in crew rest, came out to take a bathroom break, dressed only in his boxers and t-shirt.  The press piled on with gusto.  I told myself that I would not be killed by a bullet, because I had to return home and work in the movie industry.  To dissuade the "wrong" kinds of ladies from rushing to her cause, she announced that she would hire only plain-looking women over the age of 30.

"He talked inaudibly for three-quarters of an hour -- about what, I haven't the faintest idea."  He banged the stock of his musket on the ground and brought down an enormous turkey, which dropped from the sky and onto Larry's head like a sack of cement.  Although it took him awhile to recover the total use of his legs, he had an amazing constitution and will to live.  He doesn't know where he's going, but he figured that he might as well get there.  The business community loved it since it messed with nothing anyone cared about, at least anyone important.  The monster was attractive, colorful, dynamic and sympathetic with no scientific briefing explaining its origins.  It can make hot sauce taste like a glazed donut, vinegar taste like apple juice, and oysters taste like chewing gum.

He confidently led the country in a cataclysmic war in which secret warfare figured significantly and for which he possessed a talent that sprang spontaneously from his nature.  They would prosper for another decade, but their greatest work was now behind them.  It's extremely unlikely that the key I've kept with me all these years would fit the new lock.  We do not know how the attack may be carried out, and defending ourselves will not be easy, but we must try.  But after so many years, he had forgotten the formula.  It would be nearly a decade before the monster's mighty roar would be heard again.  For some couples, however, the cost of separating is no match for the price of freedom.

This post is not meant to make any sense.  It was put together from random sentences contained in eight different books on a variety of topics.  I kind of like it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Love And Dating

My daughter and I went out to eat for dinner this evening to one of our favorite area restaurants, Houlihan's.  The food there is pretty good, and we can almost always get a table as soon as we walk in.  Their menu is eclectic enough that I get something different to try every time I go there, and enjoy it.

Anyway, while we were sitting there eating, my eyes drifted around the restaurant.  I like to people watch.  I always find it interesting to see who might be there on a first date.  Their body language usually gives them away.  They seem to be just a bit nervous, they don't make eye contact with their date, necessarily, and sometimes you can see the little flirtations that one or the other might be exhibiting.  It's kind of fun.  There were at least two couples there on dates, and I told Melody, just for kicks.  She's 10 and while dating is still quite a ways off for her, I don't want her to not know it exists, especially since I still date.  I'll tell her what signs to look for, and she giggles and leans on my shoulder, slightly embarrassed about the whole thing.

This afternoon, I watched the movie SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.  It was good, but I don't understand why it got all the awards it did.  What I didn't like was the language.  So often, in a movie like this, it's just gratuitous.  It doesn't need to be there.  It took me out of the movie a few times.  What I did focus on was the developing relationship between the two leads.  It made me think about how love works.  I wish I knew how it works, but it's interesting to watch and think about.  I've heard so many say that there is only one person in the world that's your perfect match.  I don't necessarily believe that.  I do think God knows who your perfect match is, but there may be many people who could potentially be a great match with someone.  I look at the fact that I was married to someone so wonderful as my wife, and after she died, if there were no others who I could match with, I'd be pretty depressed.

But your circle of possibilities is only as large as your circle.  If you grow up in a small town somewhere, and you never move out of that town, then the possibilities of matching with someone are limited to that small town.  And that's fine.  If God says it's meant to be, then it's meant to be.

I believe there are many women out there that are great matches for me.  While I believe God knows who that one person is, I do not, and it's up to me to find her.  So I have my mental criteria of what to look for.  I know, physically, what I find attractive, and that's what I look for first.  And I think everyone has their own way of quantifying what attractive means to them.  We're all wired differently.  What I find attractive isn't going to necessarily match what someone else finds attractive.  I find that fascinating, but it's true, because we're all individuals.

Attractiveness doesn't define love, however.  There are so many other parts to it.  How you mesh with someone from a personality aspect is important.  Whether you have common likes and dislikes.  Your faith.  Chemistry.  It all adds up to make a complete person, and it's that complete person who you either love or don't love.  Sure you can "love" how a person looks, or "love" that you have so much in common with someone else, but I don't think there is true love without putting together a complete person.  That's what makes it so fascinating to me, and why we are attracted to a specific person.

So, with that said, I think I'll be tackling another, more high-profile online dating site again, and we'll see where this gets me.  While this is not a New Year's resolution, it is one from last year that I didn't follow through on, and I'm going to approach this with a little more seriousness this time around.  I'm ready.  My daughter thinks I'm ready.  My family thinks I'm ready (they've been pushing me for several years now!).  Stay tuned.  If nothing else, and I know this is the wrong attitude to take into this, but...., I'll have some great material for the blog.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pick-up Lines That May or May Not Work

For reasons I can't figure out, though I'll bet it involves massive embarrassment, a few of my co-workers want to create a profile for me on a prominent online dating site, but they don't want me to provide any input.  They think they know what will work for me, and, in fact, one said he could guarantee me a date in one week.  I reminded him that I could find several dates in one day if I dropped my own stringent criteria.  He thinks I don't know what I want.  He said I'm a little too boring....humdrum, as they say.  That figures.

It appears that this is going to happen whether I participate or not, since these are the kinds of co-workers I have.  I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing.  But it did make me think about what kind of pick-up lines might work better than a bogus online dating profile.  Here are a bunch or really bad ones from the, and websites:

Excuse me, is this seat taken?

Would you like to dance?

You look like you might be interested in some great conversation.

Would you like an escort to your car?

I just thought you should know that you have a really nice.....

Your eyes are really cute.  (pause)  Oh, wait, I think the right one is a little cuter than the left one.

I love that dress on you.  You must have had a lot of practice on Barbie as a child.

Did you hurt yourself when you fell from Heaven?

Are your legs tired?  'Cause you've been running through my mind all night!

Is it hot in here, or is it just you?

Are you a library book, 'cause I'd like to check you out!

I'm trying to rearrange the alphabet so U and I are next to each other.

Are you a parking ticket?  'Cause you've got FINE written all over you!

Hey, I lost my phone number....can I have yours?

Are you accepting applications to your fan club?

Did the sun come up, or did you just smile at me?

You're hot, I'm ugly, let's make some average babies!

Is your name Google, 'cause you've got everything I'm looking for!

Kiss me if I'm wrong, but dinosaurs still exist, right?

Well, here I am!  What were your other two wishes?

Was your dad a baker?  'Cause you've got the nicest buns I've ever seen!

Did you have Lucky Charms for breakfast?  'Cause you look magically delicious!

Something's wrong with my cell phone, 'cause your number isn't in it!

Somebody call the cops, 'cause it must be illegal to look that good!

I'm not a photographer, but I can picture us together!

If you were a potato, you'd be a really nice potato.

Is your name Wifi, 'cause I think I can feel a connection here.

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Or should I walk by again?

Excuse me, is this seat taken?

Have a great evening, everyone!

Monday, January 6, 2014


I am dying to take a road trip!  I have, like, crazy wanderlust.  I need to be out on the open road, roaming across the plains of our great United States of America, checking out every road side attraction that we can find, with no time-table, no real destination.  Then I want to drive through the Rockies, top to bottom, and do some off-road adventures.  To top it off, I want to ride up the west coast, up Rt. 1 and 101, all the way to Canada.

Buying a new car does this to me.  I'm the proud owner of a brand new Jeep Wrangler, and I'm so anxious to test it out on a big trip.  Driving is one of my passions.  I discovered when I was a kid the appeal of traveling by car, and it has stayed with me to this day.  When I was old enough to take a trip by myself (according to my parents), my first trip was to visit my grandfather, Pap, who lived in Uniontown, PA, about 4 hours from the DC area.  I came to love the trip as much as the destination, and I the more I took that trip, which at one time I averaged once every 2 months, I started experimenting with back roads, alternate routes, historic routes, etc., which was great since US 40/Alt. 40/Scenic 40/Rt. 144, the National Road, pretty much paralleled the interstate all the way to Uniontown.  I loved imagining what it must have seemed like to drive the old route back in the road's heyday.

Then I discovered Route 66.  I read a guidebook for 66 I received as a Christmas gift that ignited a passion to drive the old route, or what was left of it, across the country.  I did a ton of research, pouring over guides and maps and atlases, and I planned a big trip for the Fall of 1997.  Then I headed west.

This became a life-changing trip for me.  I hit the road in my 1994 Pontiac Grand Am GT, and drove out to St. Louis, where I jumped on Route 66.  I was feeling the nostalgia of the era, when the old road was the primary route between Chicago and Los Angeles, before the interstates came about.  I stopped at many roadside attractions, from museums, restaurants, and gas stations, to caverns, caves, rocks, and tourist traps.  I drove across Missouri to the southeastern corner of Kansas, across Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, New Mexico, Arizona (including the Grand Canyon!), and into California.  It was an incredible drive!  I wish I had more time, but I knew as soon as I reached California, I'd have to start driving back east again in order to get home in my two week window.

I had originally planned to drive all the way to the west coast, but I determined, if I drove north from Needles, CA, to Las Vegas, I could extend my trip north from Denver and hit Wyoming and South Dakota, instead of driving due east across Kansas.  Las Vegas was a spectacle, but driving into Utah was a treat.  I drove through several National Parks, including Zion and Arches, and then into Colorado, which was gorgeous.  It was mid-October, and it turned out I beat the first snow storm of the season by about a week.  Then I headed north into Wyoming, which was starkly beautiful for it's barren-ness, and then east into the Black Hills.  Here, I fell in love.  The entire Black Hills region is so gorgeous.  I could live there.  I love the Native American culture that permeates the area, but I also loved seeing Mt. Rushmore, and the town of Deadwood was like an old west town should be.

The rest of the trip was anti-climactic, though still very cool, but it was obvious I was winding down and ready to go home.  I had spent just over 2 weeks on the road, and driven through 21 states.  I had driven the whole way by myself, with my only passenger my true guide, The Big Guy Upstairs.  I spent a lot of the trip talking to Him, and He talked to me, providing a direction for my life that led to me finding the woman I ended up marrying six short months later.  I enjoyed it all so much that I ended up taking my wife on a similar trip, only in reverse, in 2000.

So I want to take a big trip in our new Jeep.  I just need to come up with a destination.  Or do I?  I think just being out on the open road might be enough.  I'm so anxious to share this wonderful country with my daughter, so she can see all of the sites that I and her mom saw.  The wanderlust is too hard to ignore....crazy wanderlust!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ya Ya Holiday Party

Little did I know back in 1998 when I met the girl who became my wife, that I'd become attached to a group of young ladies who continue to be a big part of my life.  Teresa had a bunch of girlfriends from college who she remained friends with over the years:  Kristen, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Cherice, and Cherish.  Each played a significant role in her life.  Kristen was her room mate for several years after college.  Cherice was her room mate during college.  All were room mates with each other at some point, either in college or after.  All except Cherish were bridesmaids in our wedding.  They've been so supportive of Teresa as great friends, and then to me and Melody following Teresa's death, and they remain friends to this day.

Every year since I met them, they've had a "Holiday" party right around Christmas and Hannukah.  Not all were a part of this party every year.  In fact, Cherice, who was the first of the bunch to get married, has been very busy with her two boys (who are teens now, I believe), hasn't been a part of the group for a number of years.  Cherish moved away shortly after college and lived in San Francisco, then Chicago.

Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Kristen were Teresa's primary friends, and they got to calling each other "Ya Ya's", after Kristen read the book, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood".  The book is about four crazy friends, and seemed to fit the four of them very well.  After Teresa and I were married, they all continued to get together, primarily for the party we had each year around the Holidays, and they called it their "Ya Ya Holiday Party."  When Cherish was in town, she would join us.  For many years, it was held at our home, particularly after Melody was born, and after Jennifer got married, we welcomed another male, Rob, to the group (so I wasn't overwhelmed by the girls when they came here and I was the only male).

After Teresa died, Cherish moved back to Maryland.  Rob & Jennifer had a baby girl, Alana.  A few years ago, Cherish got married, and Chris joined the group, then they had a baby, and Grace joined us.  And we continue to get together every year.  Last year, things got a little crazy and we ended up waiting until February to get together, but we always make sure we get together.  And we have fun.  Well, most of the time...

Unfortunately, the only differences we seem to have are over our sports team alliances.  I'm the only Steelers fan in the group.  Teresa was a Redskins fan.  Cherish follows the Eagles.  Elizabeth, Rob, Jennifer, and Chris are Ravens fans.  Kristen doesn't watch any football, and puts up with all of us.  The problem develops when we get together and the playoffs have started.  Pretty much every year, debates are started about the Ravens and Steelers, since they are rivals.  It has gotten a little uncomfortable when someone in the group bad mouths someone else's team.  We've had some tempers flare as a result..  We finally determined that there would be no football talk at all.  That was fine, but too often, one or the other team would be playing at the same time as the party, and since we are all die hard sports fans (except Kristen), we had to watch the games.  Fortunately, none of the teams have had to play each other during the party.  Anyway, we only had two parties that erupted into uncomfortable situations, and other than them, we've had a very enjoyable time.

I'm very thankful that we continue to have the parties.  It's my main connection to my wife's friends, and allows my daughter, Melody, to hear about her mom from her friends, and it's a good time for us all.

Enjoy your evening, everyone!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dating Follies

I joined another online dating site going on four months now.  I have had zero dates in that time.  I've had a few interested ladies contact me, but none fit the criteria I have in my profile.  I've contacted about a dozen different women, but none ever returned my interest.  It's the same old story.  I've done this with several other dating sites over the years, with the same results.  The women I'm interested in never seem to be interested in me, and those who contact me don't interest me.  As it is, I'm on a drought of over a year without a date.

For a long while, I really wasn't interested in dating anyone.  I tend to feel that way from time to time.  I just get tired of rejection, and it's easier and one less stress in my life if I just don't deal with it.  But then I long for the companionship that comes with a relationship, and the intimacy that follows as you get to know someone.  I miss it.  I was married for almost 5 years and it was awesome!  As a Christ-follower, I know He has plans for me that I don't know about, and I realize I need to have patience, but I really wish He would humor me a little bit.

I know attraction is more than physical qualities, but, frankly, physical attraction has to be there.  I hate to be a typical male in that regard, but it's true, and I would guess most men feel that way.  I'm not looking for a model or beauty contestant, but I certainly want to find someone I'm attracted to.  And while I don't have any limitations on this, I do find myself attracted to tall women.

I'm an introvert, but I'm really attracted to extroverts.  I've dated both, and while I may have a lot in common with introverts, I tend to have more fun with extroverts.  But it goes deeper than that.  There has to be some common ground, and that starts with a common faith.  I have a personal relationship with God, and the person I date must have that, as well.  With Him, everything else is possible.

As I said, I've had a little bit of success over the years.  It's not like the dating sites have been a total waste of time (and money).  I dated one young lady at, and it lasted a couple of months, with a handful of dates.  She was just a little too...let's say, flamboyant for me.  There was another who I really liked a lot, but after a couple of dates, she told me she didn't feel the same way about me.  It's disappointing when you think you've found someone who you really feel strongly about, and they don't feel the same, but that's why you have to date.  It's not magic.  I go on very few second dates.

I'm not a big fan of dating, really.  I particularly hate blind dates, and I've had more than my fair share of them.  Obviously, none have ever worked out for me.  But it just seems that, no matter what your expectations might be on a blind date, they turn out totally different.  It can be very frustrating.

Anyway, what prompted this topic is that I received a date request on the site I'm currently on.  It's the first time I've received one.  I give women who contact a guy a lot of credit.  I'm a bit old fashioned and believe the guy should be the one to take the initiative, but I know how hard that is.  Here's the problem, though.  Why do so many women provide photos that don't give any indication as to what they look like?  This woman looks fine...I don't see any facial tattoos or anything, but then I can't really see much of her face.  The picture shows her from the nose up, and it's the only pic on her profile.  In addition, she is older than me.  Not much, but still outside of my established interest on my profile.  Lastly, she is not a Christian.  I make it so clear that this is a requirement, but I guess it's difficult for non-Christians to understand why this is so important.  So, should I give her a chance?

I'll keep looking.  I really do want to find someone.  I'm not desperate, but I hate that my daughter doesn't know what it's like to have a mom.  That's a big deal.  So we'll see how it goes.

Have a great evening, everyone!  Stay warm!