Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Chastened, but unabashed

Ah, controversy. It gets the old heart pumping and the blood pressure up. It makes people write letters to the editor or to their senator, and sometimes it inspires comments on an otherwise mildly entertaining blog.

I thought I had established my credentials as a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek kind of blogger. I acknowledge that I write fiction. You know… made-up stuff.

An example is that poem I wrote about seeing the Devil in my front yard. I hope none of you believed THAT! What Satan REALLY said was that Texas was almost as hot as Hell. And I made up that “Hades Index;” our local paper doesn’t really report our temperatures as a percentage of Hell’s.

Also, a few weeks back I made a bad pun about “propaganda.” Then I pretended that “linguini” was the plural of “linguist.” (That actually makes sense, if you think about it. I mean “alumni” is the plural of “alumnist,” right? “Literati” is the plural of “literature.” “Illuminati” is the plural of “illumination,” or sometimes of “light bulbs.”)

You see? I’m very good at words and word origins. That’s one reason I decided to be an English major.

Oh, and I don’t want ANY of you to believe my daughter Christina’s comments on yesterday’s post. You know, her claiming that she was taken in by my little joke about “sillibance” being real? Nah! She’s been around me far too long to believe anything I say. She’s WAY too smart to think that “sillibance” could possibly be a real word, despite Google finding it in 8 different locations around the net. She’s was just helping me create some controversy by pretending to be fooled. She even (you’ll laugh at this…) sent me an email demanding a public apology for fooling her in public, so to speak! Ha, ha. Oh, Christina, that was a funny one!

Anyway, back to word origins. I started this post with a comment about controversy; an interesting word in its own right (rite?). “Con” or “contra” of course, means “against.” “Versy” is a plural form of “verse.” So “controversy” is a clearly a negative impression concerning poetry, or someone who HAS such a negative impression.

Once I understood that, I came to realize why so many of the comments on this blog are controversial. My readers don’t like poetry.

Now, this may be a subconscious bias, but it seems clear from both the content of the comments, and the context. (“Content” describes someone who doesn’t like camping. “Context” describes someone who doesn’t like the written word.)

Tomorrow I may continue along this line of thought. Or not. (“Continue” describes someone who doesn’t like tin ewes. Tin ewe dig it?)

Monday, May 30, 2005

A Confession

As many of you regular readers know, my wonderful wife (who I would never intentionally offend, though I’ve managed to do so several times in our long, near-perfect marriage) is NOT a big fan of my blog. (Understatement.)

She does, however, support me in my attempts to become a published author. She is an English major and a perfectionist. I am an English major, but one for whom “close enough” works just fine.

I am comfortable with writing that sounds OK even if, strictly speaking, it isn’t “correct.” She, on the other hand, has little patience for blatant misuse of the English language.

This morning she walked into our “school room” (so named because this extra bedroom in our house was set up 20 years ago as a place where she could home-school our two daughters—more on that another time) which houses our home office and computer. She found me gleefully typing away on a blog comment defending my use of the pseudo word “sillibance.”

Her bemused tolerance at my silliness turned into less-than-tolerant pique when she saw the comment from Christina in which our daughter seemed to acquiesce and agree that “sillibance” might be a legitimate word.

Now remember, Carol educated Christina. For me, her father, to deceive her into thinking that a made-up word was legitimate would be... well, dishonest!

Remember the old song by The Association called “Windy?” One line from that song’s lyrics always brings to mind my wife. The line goes:

And Windy has stormy eyes,
That flash at the sound of lies...

One thing Carol cannot stand is dishonesty.

She looked at me with that one-raised-eyebrow look and asked, “So, are you not going to admit that you’re stupid and just misspelled the word?”

My arguments that it was all in fun, tongue in cheek, etc., fell on deaf ears. I even tried, “Oh, Christina knows ‘sillibance’ isn’t a real word. She’s just going along with the joke.” Didn’t work.

As the tee-shirt slogan says, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy!”

So, to all of you (or maybe both of you) faithful readers, here’s my confession: I wanted to use the word “sibilance.” I had a “senior moment” when I wasn’t sure if the word was “sibilance” or “sillibance,” so I Googled “sllibance” and found a bunch (7) of listings and, being in a hurry to post the comment, I used it.

Mea culpa! Then, when (inevitably) my error was gleefully pointed out by Karyn “the foil” Lyndon (Thanks a LOT, Karyn!), I tried to cover up my ignorance.

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul. I’m not sure.

I was feeling a lot more gleeful when I was (successfully, I thought) defending my ignorance with bluster and obfuscation.

(Another quote: "If you're right, pound the facts. If you're wrong, pound the table.")

But Carol is happier. She’d much rather that all of my readers think her husband to be addle-headed or ignorant than dishonest!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Afternoon of a Fawn

(Apologies to Claude Debussy)

This afternoon Carol and I played golf on our local (Victoria, TX) Riverside Golf Course.

As its name implies, it lies beside the banks of the Guadalupe River. Much of the land around the course is forested, and there is a significant deer population in the area.

Well, this is the time of year when the does (“a deer, a female deer”) drop their fawns. These amazing creatures can run within hours of birth, and after a few days they can run like the wind. Well, you all saw “Bambi,” so you know that.

One habit of the mama deer is to leave little Bambi lying quietly in a semi-secluded spot (more sillibance, or as some would spell it, sibilance—take your pick; I do) while she goes off to do whatever a mama deer does in the daytime. (I could have written, “...whatever does do,” or maybe, “...whatever one of the does does,” but that would have been confusing. Is that word “doughs” or “duz?” Or are we trying to “do si do,” as in square dancing? But I digress.)

In mama doe's absence little Bambi will usually lie still, even when approached by humans. But sometimes the humans get too close. Or something spooks Bambi. Or maybe Bambi just decides he wants to run.

Anyway, here’s my tale. (Not “tail,” Karyn!)

Today I saw Bambi lying in the shade of some trees between two fairways. He seemed contented enough, and we left him alone. Behind us, however, a golfer hit his tee shot near Bambi, and Bambi decided he wanted to be somewhere else.

We saw him loping along beside the tree-lined fairway in the shade. You have to picture this: Bambi is only 14 inches tall, and most of that height is legs that look like tiny twigs. He turned and crossed our fairway just ahead of us, noticed us nearby, and doubled his speed.

I was amazed that anything that small could move so fast! His little legs were a blur as he bounded along, across an adjacent fairway, around an elevated green, and then parallel to a road just off the course.

Cars were traveling on the road, so he stayed on the golf course until he approached some buildings (golf cart barn and clubhouse). He wheeled, making an impossible U-turn in defiance of the laws of physics, and ran beside the road in the opposite direction, back the way he had come and getting closer to us again.

He was still traveling faster than I can imagine any dog running when he ducked under a shrub bordering the course and went straight toward the road.

My heart stopped as he streaked across the road, but no car hit him. He turned once more to parallel the road, and as a car approached him from behind he doubled his speed again!

The car had to be moving at 30 mph, at least. Bambi, I swear, outran the car! His legs completely disappeared, they were moving so fast. I wondered if his feet were even touching the ground. Once more he veered—another impossible turn at that speed—flashed across the road well ahead of the car, and disappeared into the woods.

I was so caught up in watching him I completely lost track of how many times I’d hit the ball on that hole. So DON’T ASK ME WHAT MY SCORE WAS today! I was watching the baby deer, okay?!

That was my Afternoon of a Fawn. Despite the clouds, there were some rays (“A drop of golden sun”), and me (“A name I call myself”) and my wife got to watch Bambi go very fast, and very fa (“A long, long way to run”).

Betcha you’re singing that song to yourself, right? And will be for the next hour or so. Try listening to a recording of Claude Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun;” maybe it’ll drive the tune away.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nobody’s buying fiction?

That’s what my agent said this past week. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

No, it’s not hype! Hype is defined as, “exaggeration to an extreme; over the top; bordering on outrageous.” (Source: John Earle’s “Dictionary of the Moment.” I use that at my convenience to back up any questionable definition I want to use at the time.)

He (my agent, for those of you with a short attention span) elaborated that the larger publishers are buying fiction mostly from established authors. They are also buying non-fiction (mostly how-to books).

Where does that leave all of us GREAT writers with potential to become “established authors,” if only given a shot? I’ll tell you where it leaves us.

It leaves us waiting patiently for the next rejection letter. But with HOPE (“That which springs eternal;” same source as above) that somewhere out there a publisher is willing to concede that this new manuscript CHERISH IS THE WORD by an unknown might actually earn a profit. It’s fun to read. It’ll create a following. Hey, this author might become the next “established” one!

Ah, Hope! Without You, where would we be?

Anyway, all that to say this: In the past year or so I’ve traveled quite a bit (by my standards) for business. No, not the writing business—my day job! I’m a Human Resources Manager, remember?

I’ve flown from South Texas to L.A. (twice), San Diego, Dallas, Louisville, Albuquerque, and Chicago. One of the tings I do during a flight is see what people are reading. Try it the next time you’re walking the plane’s center aisle to the rest room in the back. Just walk slowly and glance from side to side. Pretend you’re looking out the window, if somebody gives you that “What are YOU looking at?” look.

It’s hard to catch the titles of some books, but others are obvious. According to my informal survey (CAUTION: these results are not scientific and may not be truly representative... There, feel better? An official disclaimer!), many of those books are from authors I’ve never heard of.

Question: Where are these travelers finding these books by other-than-established writers?

Is there a secret source out there that we don’t know about? Are these “P.O.D.” (Publish—or Print—On Demand) books? Are they from a local library?

Ah, there’s a point! I use my local library a lot. I usually stop for a while in front of their “New Releases” section near the front door. Yeah, there are always recent books in there by “established” authors. But there are always “first time” books as well.

Yes, I know; that means those books were bought by a publisher two years ago, because it takes that long to get a book out the door and promoted so libraries will buy copies. But I borrow and read mostly those first-time efforts. A lot of them I like. I will then note the author’s name and look for a second book by him/her.

But darn it, those books are getting bought (by libraries, at least) and read. And by other people than just me—they ALL have multiple “due date” stickers on the cover.

I know, I know; library sales do not generate enough $$ to make it worth a publisher’s while to invest in buying and printing and promoting a book. And maybe our society is shifting sufficiently (check out that sillibance, will ya) in its leisure-time habits that reading print novels is easing into a long-term or permanent decline.

If so, this will be yet another trend or opportunity that I have attempted to become a part of too late. I’m still hoping (here’s Hope again!) that, if the above decline be true, it’ll be slow enough that we’ll have at least several decades ahead before all the print publishers go out of business or shift their production to some new, popular, iPod form of electronic fiction delivery method.

Hey, I listen to recorded books on long road trips when I’m driving. I’m not against alternative delivery methods. I’d just like some of MY fiction to be made commercially available to consumers in whatever format is popular.

Is that asking too much? (That was rhetorical. No answer required) (Yes, you nit-pickers, I realize those sentences were redundant.)

Thank God for Hope!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Gender issues?

I know… I seem to end up talking (writing) a lot about stereotypes relating to gender.

The enlightened intellectual in me wants to believe that we are each individuals. Although we are influenced in a profound way by our gender (genetically, culturally, environmentally, and lots of other adverbs), we have the ability to rise above all that and see things from the perspective of a person rather than as a man or woman.

But let’s face it; stereotypes become stereotypes because there’s an element of truth in them. (Yes, that’s the unenlightened redneck in me. I’m glad you noticed.)

Besides, pointing out stereotypical behavior in others is fun! It gets reactions. It gets comments. It gets people upset, and that’s fun too.

So, here we go...

Why is it that women are afraid of things they don’t understand? (THAT ought to get a rise out of some of you!)

Example? Computers. Women I work with, my wife, and even my daughter Christina (not as much, and you’re getting better) refuse to click or hit “Enter” unless they understand (or think they do) EXACTLY what that action will cause to happen. When in doubt, they’ll stare at the screen for a while and then ask someone else.

When they DO ask me, I will begin hitting various keys and clicking parts of the screen to see what happens. They always want to know, “What did you just do? Why?” Sometimes it’s, “How did you know that would work?”

Well, I didn’t. But staring at the screen waiting DEFINITELY isn’t going to work, so the odds are in my favor if I just do SOMETHING.

“Oh, but it might do something I DON’T want to do!”

So? Whatever that is, it’s probably not permanent. It can be corrected.

“But I might lose my data!”

So save the file as a new name first, so you’ll have the original AND the version you’ve altered, and THEN start clicking. But do something!

What? Exceptions? Of course there are exceptions. Yes, some men are just as bad. And yes, some women with a more adventuresome outlook on life don’t hesitate. Those exceptions just prove the rule.

OK, I’m ready for the firestorm of comments and response. Take your best shot.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to a cute poem or something non-controversial. (Maybe.)


P.S. :

Boy, did MY bluff get called today! I’ve always said I had a “public” blog, meaning I identify myself, my home town, and enough information about me that anybody can find me if they want me. (Makes me keep this blog cleaner and in slightly better taste than it might otherwise be.)

But then I posted a comment on the blog of someone who is a regular here, and told her I knew where she lived (even though I don’t).

Well, today she called me at work! Proud of herself that she had tracked down my office phone number. Wanted me to guess who it was.

Can you imagine? The NERVE of some of these women!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


No, this is not about me.

Well, it's not ALL about me. But since you asked... Yes, my tooth is less sensitive today, so I don’t plan to go back to the dentist until it’s time to put the permanent crown on. And yes, I WAS whiny yesterday. (And thanks for pointing that out. I’ll try to whine in less obvious fashion in the future.)

Gee, one commenter told me I was being a baby, and another said my post made her want to barf. Too graphic, I guess. Sorry. (Disclaimer: I will NOT be responsible for your keyboard being ruined when you barf on it after reading my blog.)

Anyway, I owe Karyn an apology. I made a snotty comment about her likely being a fan of natural childbirth, since pain seemed to be no big deal for her. She informed me that… well, read her comment to yesterday’s post (below). You’ll see.

My hat is off to her, and to all mothers who had to endure labor, C-Section surgery (or both, in some awful cases) to produce their children. That includes my own mother, of course. (Thanks, Mom!) Members of my gender will never fully appreciate what that must be like.

What? You want some support for that statement? How about the Bible? Any idea how many times in the Old Testament the writers use the phrase, “…pain like that of a woman in labor?” It’s always in reference to very intense pain; sometimes unimaginable pain. No, I don’t have a count for you, but as a regular reader I can tell you that it’s more than a few.

(There’s something you blog readers didn’t know about me. I read the entire bible all the way through every year. Done it for, oh, thirty years now. No, it’s not some Big Religious Deal, not am I looking for “points” for it. It’s just something I do. I hope that’s not a problem for you. If it is, deal with it.)

All of this started me thinking about pain.

Have you ever thought about how fortunate we are to be living now, as opposed to any earlier time in history? Anesthetics have gone in the last 125 years from a shot of whiskey and bite a bullet to the vast array of medicines and techniques we have today to control and sometimes eliminate pain.

Further advances are being made daily. I hear regular radio ads for “sedation dentistry” that promise you that you’ll simply go to sleep in the chair and wake up later with the work all done. (Don’t think THAT wasn’t running through my mind on the way to getting prepped for this crown!)

Surgical and medical techniques have been refined to be much less invasive than in the past. Arthroscopic surgery, micro-surgery, laser surgery… and I’m not involved at all in the medical professions.

I look in awe at people (like you, Karyn) who have undergone lengthy agonizing experiences or procedures and remain philosophical about them. And I empathize with people (like you, Robin) who are terrified of dentists and other painful experiences and avoid them to their own detriment.

I guess I fall somewhere in between the two. I don’t like going to the dentist, but I go twice a year. I avoid doctor visits, unless I’m sick enough that I think they could do something to speed recovery. (I don’t go for a common cold, for example).

I don’t know if that qualifies me as a wimp or not. Nor do I much care. This isn’t supposed to be about ME, remember?

If any of you would like to share a personal story about either enduring or avoiding pain, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Duke’s Crown, continued…

Nothing’s easy, right?

I announced to the world yesterday (and you read it right here!) that my temporary crown was installed with minimal discomfort. Well, one of the Novocain shots hurt like the dickens, but that was momentary.

After that post the Novocain began to wear off. I ate supper later than usual to make sure I had SOME feeling in my mouth before I started chewing food. Otherwise I was liable to end up chewing on the inside of my left cheek and not realize it. (I’ve done that before.)

The dentist said chewing should not be a problem with the new temporary crown. Just don’t chew sticky stuff like gum or taffy—that might cause the temp to pop off.

As supper continued and I was getting less numb by the minute (and Karyn, that’s Numb, not Dumb!) I noticed that chewing any food on the left side was starting to send “Zing!” signals from that tooth to my brain. (Yes, despite some reports and allegations to the contrary, I do have a brain.)

OK, cut to the chase here.

Within an hour that tooth was aching, and extremely sensitive to heat, cold, and any pressure.

I took ibuprofen and managed to sleep OK last night. But morning I thought it was better (no aching, at least) until I took a bite of fried egg. Zing! OK, all chewing was henceforth performed on the OTHER side of my mouth. Then I took a sip of coffee. ZING!!

I called the dentist from work. I was told that sometimes it takes a day or two for a tooth that has been prepped for a crown to “settle down.” If it’s still that sensitive tomorrow, call them again and they’ll get me in on Friday morning and see what they can do.

Great! Betcha that tomorrow it’s no better and I have to go back, get MORE Novocain shots, and suffer through no telling WHAT pain and indignities. Meanwhile for the rest of today and tomorrow it’s no cold beverages, not hot coffee, and very careful chewing on the right side only.

What I don’t go through to get my gold crown. Maybe that “coronet” (that CANDACE mentioned a few weeks ago as more appropriate for a Duke) would have been better than the full meal deal, full cast, solid gold CROWN.

Probably would be cheaper to just have the dentist PULL the damn thing. But I’ll ask him on Friday about a coronet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Thomas Crown Affair?

Remember that movie? No? Well, gee, there were TWO of them. The original is a classic 1968 Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway thriller. The remake in 1999 stars Pierce Brosnam and Rene Russo. Good movies! But they have nothing to do with today’s post.

Today it was the Duke of Earle Crown Affair. Yes, my summer cold is now a thing of the past. This is the day I had the privilege of getting prepped to receive my gold crown on ol’ molar number 19.

Appointment: 3:40 p.m.
Arrival time: 3:35 p.m.

3:45 — I am escorted back from the waiting area into THE CHAIR. I have a glimmer of how the condemned man must feel walking to the other CHAIR, “old sparky.” No, I’m not a total wimp. (OK, maybe that depends on who you ask.) But I’m not a big fan of poking, prodding, drilling, grinding, and other similar activity performed in my mouth, even WITH Novocain.

3:48 — Dr. Lott appears, all gloved and masked and ready to start things. He hefts this giant syringe off the tray in front of me and says with what sounds like a smile (his face well hidden behind the mask), “OK, you’re going to feel a little pinch.”

Why do they always say that? I know; it’s psychology. Your ear hears “pinch” and your brain imagines a little harmless squeezing together of your skin between two fingers. Nothing invasive—just a hard enough squeeze to cause a tiny sting.

But your eyes see this 4-inch-long SHARP POINTED OBJECT coming towards the soft, moist, sensitive tissues inside your mouth, and tell your brain, “NO! This isn’t going to PINCH. It’s going to stick a hole through my skin, into my flesh, and maybe all the way into my jawbone! It’ll probably bleed. It’s going to HURT LIKE HELL!

Your brain, being essentially visually oriented, always believes your eyes rather than your ears.

To my mild surprise, the doctor uses one hand to wiggle my left cheek and inserts the needle into a couple of areas with almost no pain at all. I can feel a little tingle as he pushes the plunger just enough to inject the numbing liquid. I release my death-grip on the padded arms of the chair and allow my rigid legs to bend a little. I even tell him, “Nicely done. I hardly felt that at all.”

His smiling voice comes back, “Good, but I’ve got one more location I’ve got to do.” I’m relaxed now and open wide. OH, SHIT! That one hurt! Dammit, he set me up!

To my great relief the syringe now disappears, the mask comes off, and the doctor says, “OK, I’ll be back in about 15 minutes after you’ve had a chance to get numb.”

4:10 — He’s back, re-masked and all business. He pokes around a bit in the vicinity of number 19 to make sure I am, in fact, numb. I am. He nods, picks up his tools and gets to work.

Lots of high-pitched, high-speed grinding. Sounds like: “zzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeee.” Lots of water spray around my face. Then comes the lower speed grinding that sounds like he’s got a three-inch grinding wheel on the end of a stiff shaft. Sounds like: “bbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrb-b-b.” I can smell smoke, which I know is the surface of my poor number 19 molar vaporizing under the assault from the power tools.

From the sounds, vibrations and smells my brain knows I ought to be feeling pain. So I sort of imagine that I am. But in reality it’s just vibration and a little pressure.

After an eternity that, by the clock, lasted exactly 6 minutes, he announces, “OK. That’s done. Now let’s get an impression and we’ll fit you with the temporary.”

He’s done? No more grinding? Gee, that didn’t hurt a bit!

Dr. Lott and his assistant get a little plastic tray and using (I swear!) a caulking gun; he fills it up with a clear gooey gel. He places it carefully over my lower jaw and says, “Bite down. Good, hold that for 3 minutes.”

He and the assistant talk about the new software they’re buying for the office computer network.

When the timer dings, he takes the impression out and checks it. He frowns and says it wasn’t a good one; they’ll have to try another.

Unable to resist, and maybe a little giddy with relief that the grinding is over and it really didn’t hurt, I feign real disappointment and say, “Oh, no!”

Concerned, the doctor asks what’s the matter. I look at him wide-eyed and say, “Well, you know how hard it is to overcome a bad first impression.”

I swear he laughed for the next five minutes. I guess no one ever told him that one before. Or maybe he was just being polite.

Despite my attempt at comic relief, the next impression WAS a good one, the temporary crown was fashioned and put in place, and I was allowed up from the chair (reprieve!) and told to come back in three weeks for the real, gold crown!

OK, I promised you a detailed description of the experience. There ’tis.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Poems on demand? Sure! Pick your topic!

One of my regular readers (bless you, anonymous!) emailed me after those recent epic poems I crafted. You know—the ones about my refrigerator; and meeting Satan in my front yard.

What? You didn’t read them? They’re insanely clever (speaking in all modesty), so scroll down right now and check them out. They’re just a little bit further down this page. No, go ahead. We’ll wait.

OK, welcome back. Hope you enjoyed them.

What? You don’t think they qualify as epics? Well, c’mon, what’d you expect, “The Ancient Mariner?” Or maybe Homer’s “Iliad?” No, not Homer Simpson; the one from Greece. (These culturally challenged folks! What are you gonna do with them?)

Well if you don’t like them, don’t read them! Good! Goodbye!!

Hmph. Well, now that SHE’S gone, I’ll get back to my subject. Anonymous emailed me asking how I was able to come up with ideas like those and then put then into rhyme.

Well, that’s not exactly how I do it.

I just pick a topic (like Karyn’s refrigerator tag idea, or Nicole’s comment on the heat, along with my threat to write an “Ode to the Lawnmower”), write down a first line, think of a word to rhyme with the last word in that line, and see where it takes me.

I had no idea when I started the refrigerator poem that I would end up with my hand stuck and flooding the house. All I had in mind was to describe some old, moldy stuff that had been in there for months.

For the mowing poem, I knew I wanted to end up with a statement that it was “hot as Hell” or even “hotter than Hell” but I was halfway through it before I thought of meeting the devil and having HIM tell me how hot it was. You know how sometimes you just get on a roll, and things flow? And at other times you have writer’s block big time and NOTHING flows? Those poems just flowed.

For me, the tricky part is trying to select and arrange words to keep the rhythm going. And let’s face it; I’m not really striving for literary accomplishment. I’m just trying to entertain and provide a little humor.

Poems are like songs. Instead of a melody, you just need a steady rhythm. And music has always been built in to me and a part of my life and thoughts. That’s why I put so much of it into my first novel.

Thank you, anonymous, for asking about the method. I enjoy “doing” poems. I’m seldom at a loss for words.

They don’t call me “motor mouth” for nothing!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

How hot IS it?

"Unseasonably warm." - The Victoria (TX) Advocate
"Heat index -- 105 deg.,
Hades Index -- 102%"

The sun is hot as blazes. It’s summer here, for sure.
The air felt like a furnace blast when I walked out the door.
I’ve put this off for far too long, I need to mow the grass.
The neighbors look and shake their heads, sure that I’m low-class.

The grass and weeds are climbing high, obscuring now the house.
I see the yards on either side, and feel just like a louse.
The folks around here keep their lawns all manicured and neat.
Makes my place look abandoned, it’s the worst lot on this street.

All week the sun’s been shining, hot, since Monday’s heavy rains.
I would have (should have) mowed on Thursday, if I’d had the brains.
On Thursday after work the air was cooler with some breeze,
But now I see no movement in the branches on the trees.

I mount my trusty mower—(at least I get to sit!
I used to push a walk-behind, until it finally quit.
But then we bought the riding kind, much better when it’s hot.
‘Cause, after all, my house sits on a two-thirds-acre lot!)

With sweat already trickling down I move to the attack,
I wonder; should I start out in the front, or in the back?
The trees out front provide more shade; I think I’ll start out there.
A wimp, you say? Well, maybe so, but that’s not really fair.

I mean, it REALLY HOT out here, the grass is really high.
In fact, I’m not sure where I am; can hardly see the sky.
I’d started out across the lawn; by now I should have crossed it.
I wonder if I’m riding round in circles. Have I lost it?

It’s getting dark. I wonder if we’re going to have a storm.
The air seems full of smoke and dust, this surely ain’t the norm.
I smell a smell like rotten eggs, but keep the mower mowing.
I’ve GOT to reach the street out front if I just keep on going

Ah wait! What’s that? I think I see a figure just ahead.
Looks like a man. But why’s he dressed from head to toe in red?
Could it be Santa Claus, the elf, the jolly Christmas giver?
But then I noticed horns and tail! I realized (with a shiver,)

That this could be none other than Beelzebub, old Ned!
I wondered if, in all this heat, I’d passed out and was dead!
But surely I’d not be in Hell! By Jesus I’ve been saved!
Just then the devil turned to me. He stared and then he raved.

“I wanted a vacation from my home down under ground.
I’d heard that up in Texas, many pleasures could be found.
But here I am, and all I find is weather just like there.
I wanted someplace cooler, and this just isn’t fair!

“It’s only May in Texas, and the summer ain’t till June!
That’s why I didn’t come up later; why I came so soon.
I thought it would be diff’rent, but as only I can tell,
I’m going back right now because it’s hotter here than Hell!

A clap of thunder shook the ground. The devil disappeared.
The sun was out, the smoke was gone. T’was not, as I had feared,
The end of Earth, the end of me; but rather the finale
Of a Saturday night nightmare! T’was morning—time to rally!

I looked outside and saw the grass was only inches high.
The sun shone pale through morning mist, low in the eastern sky.
I didn’t read the forecast or the almanac to see,
For I knew on good authority just how hot it will be!

Yeah, I mowed today. Yeah, it was hot.
Thus inspired, I wrote this post.

Yes, I've got plenty more where this came from. And thanks for asking.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sticker Shock!

See post below, "The Conspiracy Continues."

Boy, did I blow it! The last time we had the "rooter" service out here the cost was about $70. So of course I ASSUMED that's what the price would be today.


That last time was simply to unplug the drain plumbing INSIDE the house. The plumber entered his "snake" at the kitchen sink drain and succesfully cleared a grease blockage. Price: $70.00.

But to clear a ROOT (or other) blockage OUTSIDE the house was slightly higher.

How much higher?

The total was $186.76!!



(Don't tell the fridge, but I got a $5 discount. Big deal, right? Well, at this point I'll take my successes where I can!)

The conspiracy continues

I will NOT be intimidated by (so-called) inanimate objects!

But this is getting ridiculous! Could it be that the refrigerator is getting even for that poem I posted a few days ago? I know I accused it of being involved in a house-flooding incident, but COME ON! That was FICTION. An attempt at HUMOR!

Can’t a household appliance take a joke? Gee whiz, Mr. Fridge, you’ve gotta admit you DID leak from your ice-maker plumbing once.

What? Well, OK, you’ve got a point. The leak came from where I connected the plastic hose to your built-in icemaker plumbing, so I should share the blame.

What!? You think I should take ALL the blame!? That’s unfair. It didn’t leak for several years, so I must have connected it properly.

OK, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. But don’t you think your “get even” tactic was a little over the top?

You don’t? Sheesh! Aren’t YOU the sensitive appliance! No, I don’t care if all the other appliances and fixtures in the house DO agree with you. You’re all a bunch of prima donnas.

I oughtta replace all of you. Yeah, I know that would be expensive, but you’re hitting me in the wallet now. PLUS you’re ruining my golf plans for today—Saturday—the ONE day this week when I might have had a chance to play.

What I want to know is how you did it. How did you manage to communicate with the plants outside the house and convince them to plug up my drain plumbing with roots? HOW?

Here we are on a Saturday morning—Carol is doing some laundry and I’m just flushing the toilet. The next thing I know (as the washing machine starts pumping out the soapy water), the shower stall fills up with water and the toilet overflows all over the bathroom floor!

This time, based on my experience from last month when the plumbing under the sink let loose, I knew what to do! Grab some towels and dam up the doorway so the bedroom carpet can’t get wet. Then RUN to the front yard (as before, thank goodness I was dressed) and unscrew the cap from the sewer clean-out in the front flower bed.

Yes, that lets all of the backed up sewer water, suds, etc., flow into the front flower bed. But isn’t that better than onto the bathroom floor and thence into the carpeted areas of the house?

So now what do I do? I called the city, hoping that the problem was theirs. No such luck—they’ve had no other reports of trouble in this area, but they’ll send a man out to check.

I have two choices: I can either call a “rooter” company, pay them the $60-$70 they charge for a 5-minute job of reaming out the roots, or I can rent a rooter “snake” and do the job myself. The rental will cost about $30-$40, I’ll have to drive to the business, pick up the snake, do the job, clean up the machine, and take it back. All of which will take a couple of hours.

I called the rooter company. I got their answering service with a promise that I’d be called back.
30 minute later I was called back and told that they were on their way. “How long?” I asked. There was a pause. “Oh, about an hour,” was the reply.

“Oh, so you’re NOT really ‘on your way,’ right?”

“Well, we have one other job to do first, but it shouldn’t take long.”

Yeah, right! That probably means mid-afternoon. It’s now 9:30 a.m., almost an hour after he told me he’d be here in an hour “or maybe less!”

Grumble, grumble.

I haven’t shaved yet. Carol is in the middle of a load of laundry with the washing machine turned off.

Glad I have a blog I can use to vent on.

Thanks for listening. I feel better. I think.

But I’m still thinking about trading in that refrigerator.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Christina’s moving back to Florida

And she’s taking my grandson with her!

But you know… that’s OK.

She and her husband moved to South Texas, near where she was born and raised, just 20 months ago. They had spent the preceding 6 years in Key Largo and were ready for a change.

His job opportunities here haven’t been as good as he’d hoped, and they just suffered another setback as his plans for this summer were recently dashed through a communications problem (not his fault).

As you know, she found a job that she enjoyed more than just about any she’d had before. Then in January she was terminated. I’ve always contended it was simply a Reduction in Force (layoff), although the employer styled it as a firing for misconduct. But I’ve chronicled that whole story in earlier blog posts.

Since giving birth to Trevor she has found job opportunities for herself very limited here. Thank God we were able to prove there was no misconduct, and win her fight for unemployment benefits! Without that income their situation would have been tense at best.

The two of them (plus Trevor) had planned to visit friends in the Keys this summer. They contacted some folks they know in Tampa/Clearwater as well, and were told the area is booming with lots of opportunities. They checked it out.

Christina faxed her resume earlier this week to three Clearwater businesses that had listed openings on the internet. Today one of them called her. If she were there now, they would hire her! They are both very encouraged.

It will take them a few weeks to get their local affairs in order and make the move, but unless something changes they’ll leave in the middle of June.

So why is that OK?

She dreaded telling us that they were leaving, thinking that we’d be really disappointed that they didn’t “stick it out” here longer. And that we’d feel they were depriving us of contact with our grandson.

Carol and I reminded her that each of us had moved far away from our parents at various times in our marriage. We raised our two daughters far from my parents, and sometimes a long way from Carol’s. We told her that they needed to live their life for THEM, not for us. They needed to go where THEY wanted to go and do what they thought was the right thing.

“But what about Grandma?” Christina asked, concerned. Grandma (Carol’s mom) surprised her, saying it was probably better that they go where there were better opportunities. Thus encouraged they are ebullient, ready for the change.

They’ll get back occasionally and bring Trevor with them to visit his great grandma. And we’ll get to Florida once or twice a year to see them. Hey, there’s some great golf in the Tampa area! What a great excuse to go and play some of those courses.

This whole situation caused me to think of families who try to control other family members through the application of guilt.

It would have been really easy to pour guilt on Christina and her husband, pouting that she’d just teased us by having a grandbaby and then she was taking him away. We could have whined that she was being selfish, and after all we’d done for her! (Whatever that might have been.) She wasn’t looking out for her new son’s best interests!

If we were really good at it, and convincing, we might have caused them to change their minds and stay. But who would that benefit? No one.

I can’t understand families that operate that way, but I’ve seen quite a few. I hope you’re not involved in one of them.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Our American Culture

I’m sure a number of blog posts will have something to say about the final Star Wars movie. It opened today in theaters everywhere to great hoopla and much anticipation among fans.

(What to you call a Star Wars fan? Star Trek fans are “Trekkies.” I don’t think I’ve seen a one-word nickname for all those Jedi wannabes.)

It’s an interesting phenomenon how certain art forms become part of our culture. What do I mean by that? Well, here’s an example:

If you see or hear a reference to “American Gothic” you immediately know what that painting looks like. (For those of you who are culturally challenged, that’s the painting by Grant Wood of the older farm couple with the long faces and the dour expressions standing in front of a white house. He’s holding a three-tined pitchfork, and… Oh hell, just click HERE and see it for yourself.)

There are lots of musical examples. Many songs from the second half of the 20th century (that’s the 1900s, and I’m specifically thinking of 1950-1980) are instantly recognized by most Americans.

In fact, I tried to capitalize on that in my novel, CHERISH IS THE WORD. I included as part of the story line a bunch of snippets from different songs of the 50s and 60s to show characters’ moods and thoughts. The title song becomes the story’s climax. The whole story in a secondary sense is a tribute to 60s music.

Many books have become cultural icons as well. One series that immediately comes to mind in that vein is Tolkein’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. Who doesn’t know what orcs are?

(Yes, I know it was made into a much-viewed movie trilogy. I watched each of them too. But Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, Aragorn and the rest were part of our culture before the movies came out.)

Movies have become part of our culture, along with a number or television shows. One screenplay writer I know once commented that movies are one of a very few almost uniquely American art forms. Sure, they’re produced around the world now, but Hollywood has defined the medium.

Star Wars attained “cultural icon” status even before these three newer prequels were announced. What kid in the 70s and 80s didn’t play with Star Wars action figures, light sabers, and ewoks? Darth Vader is the quintessential villain, and today we will learn how Anakin Skywalker was turned to the dark side of The Force.

Our culture helps define us and makes us who we are. I embrace all of these examples as well as our culture of family, religion, fair play, and many more.

But darn it, I just found out that all showings of this final Star Wars movie in Victoria, Texas are sold out for the next THREE WEEKS!

I don’t know if I can stand to wait that long to se for myself how it all plays out. Guess I don’t have much choice.

(Little in my personal culture includes patience!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Various Thoughts

To all of you who commented or emailed to tell me you enjoyed yesterday’s poetic efforts, thank you! And, no, none of that was true. (I write fiction, remember?)

You have encouraged me to extend my foray into the world of rhyme in future posts. If a worthy topic presents itself (read: if something pops into my head) that lends itself to that medium, I shall pursue it.

Change of subject.

Two months ago I told a tale of a wedding cake designed, prepared and delivered by our good friend Ruth. In response to requests, I promised pictures of some of her cakes.

Well, I finally have a few for your viewing pleasure. Rather than upload them to Blogger and put thumbnails on this post, I’ve just put them on the following web site for you to check out. When you’re finished, your browser’s “Back” button will bring you back here.

CAUTION: Don’t look at them if you’re hungry. You’ll start salivating, and I will NOT be responsible for the ensuing damage to your keyboard!

Here’s the site.

Hungry now? I thought so.

Change of subject. (I put these in so you’ll avoid whiplash as I jump from thought to thought.)
(Yes, that was considerate of me. And thanks for pointing that out.)

For those of you who’ve complained that there’s not NEAR enough romance on this blog but WAY too much sex (you know who you are!), what could be more romantic than wedding cakes? That ought to put that issue to rest!

Speaking of sex…

No, although that really seemed to get your attention, I don’t have anything to say on that topic today.

I’m still basking in the satisfaction of Christina’s winning the unemployment battle. As long as the threat was hanging over her head of having to pay back all that money she was a different person. Now she’s animated, happy and looking forward to better things ahead.

I need to stop blogging and get outside and mow the lawn. We’ve had some hard rains over the last week, and the sunshine is causing everything green to leap up out there.

Maybe tomorrow’s post will be an ode to the riding mower. Sounds like a worthy topic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fridge Tag??

Karyn Lyndon sent me the following:

“Okay, here's the deal. Take a pic of the contents of your refrigerator (as it is right now) and post it on your blog. If you're digitally challenged then you can describe the contents of your fridge in poetry form (or a combination of pic and poem for you high achievers). Then you must tag three bloggers to do the same.”

Sounds like a plan to me. So, I grabbed our new, expensive digital camera and went to the kitchen.

I opened up my fridge to look, my camera in my hand.
In Karyn’s tag, a picture and a poem she did demand!

This poem will be the easy part; I write them all the time.
(Tho’ some would scoff and claim the words I use don’t really rhyme.)

But hey! We’re talking food and stuff, like meat and cheese and apple.
I mean, how hard can rhyming be, with products like this Snapple?

I checked the jars of pickles, and the milk, and Dr. Pepper.
But then I saw tortillas, old and shrivelled like a leper.

My God! How long has some of all this stuff been hiding here?
And what was that? Did I just see some movement in the rear?

I need to move some things around and see what’s lurking there.
Is that a piece of fruit? It’s green—and growing purple hair!

Let’s leave that shelf and check this drawer—why won’t the damn thing open?
I’ll just pull harder. UGH! Oh darn. I think it just got broken.

A little super glue will have it fixed in no time flat.
Looks like a piece is missing. Hmmm. I wonder where it’s at.

It might have fallen down behind. I’ll reach and hope for luck.
My fingers won’t quite fit in there. Oh, no! My hand is stuck!

I’ve got to free myself before my fingers get frost-bitten.
This thing is awfully cold down here. I wish I’d worn a mitten.

It’s like a louver, must be where the air moves past the fan.
I’ll use this fork to pry the damn thing open if I can.

Oh, hell, I dropped the fork inside. The fan is clanking wildly!
Carol will be really miffed (and that’s putting it mildly!)

I’ll reach around behind and pull the cord to stop the motor.
Ah, there! I got it. OH MY GOD! Why is it spewing water!?

I must have pulled the plastic hose that feeds the ice cube maker!
I can’t stand up. My hand is stuck. I’m kneeling in a lake here!

(OK, that was a stretch. But most of the rest of the rhymes aren’t bad!)

The water’s rising, I can’t move! I think I might just drown!
But what was that? Out in the driveway? Did I hear a sound?

It must be Carol coming home. She’ll save me without fail!
What’s taking her so long? Did she walk out to check the mail!?

She’s finally here, and turned the water off before disaster.
(I told here there’d be less to clean if she had come in faster.)

So now the fridge is broken, water through the house has flooded.
My fingers, though not broken, all are bruised and cut and blooded.

My camera has been ruined by the water on the floor.
So there will be no pictures for you bloggers to adore.

The steam’s now rolling from my dear wife’s ears, just like a fog.
She’s learned I made this mess because of something on my blog!

(In case you didn't know, Carol is not a big fan of my blog.)

There ya go, Karyn. Best I could do, considering the circumstances.

I’m not sure I want to tag three others with this one though. Offering a picture tour of your fridge might be a bit personal for some, kinda like a quick peek into your medicine cabinet.

If any of you stoppers-by want to take a run at this one, help yourselves. Let me know if you do. Somehow a picture of the inside of a refrigerator just doesn’t seem too appealing, but I’ll stop by your site and check it out.

‘Specially if you also wax poetic about it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Mick Jagger got it wrong.

Well, maybe it was right for him.

Maybe HE can’t get no satisfaction. But I can!

Maybe he was looking in the wrong place. In my case it came over the telephone. I took the call just minutes before leaving the office.

Yeah, I think you’ve guessed by now. Christina called me.

The three-member Texas Workforce Commission has upheld all aspects of the appeals tribunal’s decision, affirming Christina’s qualification for unemployment benefits and rejecting Mr. Queen’s contention that there was misconduct involved.

WOO —— HOO!!

Join me in celebration. (Hold on a sec, this cork is stubborn. AH! There. Hold your glass steady while I pour you some bubbly.)

Ahhhh, satisfaction! Allow me a moment to bask. And don’t worry; there is no chance of a turd in this punchbowl!

OK, for all you cautious types; yeah, there is still a possibility of appeal. In fact there are two avenues of appeal open to Mr. Queen. First, he can petition the commission for a new hearing. If he’s going to do anything, that’s what he’ll try.

Why? Well, it’s free. He has nothing to lose, except what little face he has left in front of his staff after losing so thoroughly to this point. However, there’s a big “but.” The Commission will ONLY consider such a petition if it contains “significant new evidence” that was not brought before the original tribunal, an explanation of how that evidence would change the outcome, AND a compelling reason why that evidence was not brought before the original tribunal.

He has no such evidence. If he did, he would have screamed about it in his four-page letter requesting the commission appeal.

His second avenue of appeal is through the courts. He won’t do that.

Why? It’s FAR from free. The cost of hiring an attorney and filing the case is many times higher than the cost of his increased unemployment payroll taxes from letting Christina keep what she deserves. If I’m reading him right, the only reason he’s gone this far is anger (or outrage) that he lost the first round. In front of his staff. They’ve probably forgotten the whole thing, so I doubt he’ll want to reopen the wound.

So, the punchbowl is clean. Ready for a second glass? Here!

So, thank you Chenoah (a retired legal secretary) for your support; and all you other regulars for your positive thoughts and well-wishes! I almost feel like we won a victory together!

I’ll be back in my humorous good mood tomorrow. But for now, bottoms up! (No, ladies; that was NOT a sexual reference! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Here. Have another glass. I’ve got a couple more bottles on ice.

(Eat your heart out, Mick.)

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Still no word from the Workforce Commission on Christina's unemployment appeal. It should have arrived in her mail either Friday or Saturday.

It didn't. If she doesn't receive anything tomorrow I'll call and ask them to re-mail or fax the decision. Or at least TELL ME!!


Last Friday afternoon I drove home from my payroll training in Houston. Thirty minutes after my arrival Carol and I were back on the road driving to the Austin area. It was a long day.

Saturday afternoon my son-in-law Tom (husband of Elizabeth—my younger daughter) received his BA degree in Computer Science from Texas State University in San Marcos.

It was a proud moment for all of us, and especially for Tom. He is the first in his family (as far as he knows) to have completed 4 years of college. In fact, his own family was less than supportive of his efforts. That’s a long story, and probably best left private.

Tom had to overcome a less-than-adequate primary and secondary education, the above-mentioned lack of support (emotional or otherwise) from his family, a lack of funds, a series of moves and sea-duty assignments in the Navy that made taking classes difficult or impossible, and other challenges to complete his degree program.

One of those other challenges involved taking remedial classes in fundamentals just to qualify for entry into the college program. He was not lacking in IQ or desire, but he’d never learned good study habits.

As in most cases, perseverance prevailed over all the difficulties. You gotta admire someone who sees his goals through to completion in the face of adversity.

I toasted Tom at the celebration dinner and party Saturday night. The topic of my little speech was pride. Not self-pride, as in being stuck-up, but the pride you feel in someone else when they do well.

Did I mention that he graduated with honors? This from a guy who needed help completing the remedial classes to get into college!

Yeah, I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my two daughters for persevering and completing their BA degrees. Some of their friends have likewise achieved goals they’ve set. All of that helps to offset the stories you hear about people with lots of potential who fail to make any effort and end up on the wrong side of the law, or otherwise down and out.

How often is it that just one offer of support, one bit of good advice, one expression of confidence can make the difference and push someone over the edge to determine to improve and be better?

I don’t know the answer. But it sure feels good to see someone overcome adversity and succeed. Kinda makes it worth the effort to offer those things, doesn’t it?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

On the Road again.

As much as I’d like to keep the prurient interest going, I’m leaving the subject of sex today.

It’s difficult to think sexy thoughts when you’re in a classroom all day learning exciting things about your new payroll system from ADP.

Who’s ADP? Only the world’s largest provider of outsourced payroll services, that’s who. So today and tomorrow I’m in Houston learning all about earnings codes and deductions, tax tables and rates, grids and folders within the online entry system, and similarly stimulating subjects (more good alliteration. Also difficult to say three times quickly).

If you haven’t already done so, you need to take a look at Brenda Bradshaw’s blog. She left a comment on my post of yesterday telling me NOT to go to it, so of course I did right away. Her current post would be rated R by the MPAA and is not for those lacking discretion or parental guidance. Interesting nonetheless.

Just so you’ll know, I may not have much opportunity to get online and post my usual witty, exciting, emotional, sexy, adventurous prose for the next few days. I’ll try, but no promises. Gotta go from Houston to the Austin area tomorrow for a graduation ceremony and party on Saturday. (It’s my younger son-in-law, Elizabeth’s husband, getting his BS in computer science. With honors, I might add. We’re all very proud!)

I doubt I’ll get a chance to post anything until Sunday, but please check back from time to time to see.

Each time you do my hit counter goes up by one and Karyn gets more jealous. And that’s fun, because she makes comments that are fun for me to respond to.

Back soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Okay, now that I’ve got your attention…

I’ve been taking a lot of heat (no pun intended) lately from some of my regular readers. They have the nerve to dispute my claim that this blog contains, among lots of other things, sex.

They just can’t see it. But it’s there.

You want an example? I’ll give you an example. How many of my posts made reference to the fact that my daughter was pregnant? A LOT of them, right? Well, how do you think she got that way, artificial insemination?

Hey, it’s OK; she’s married. In fact, she’s been married 5 years as of earlier this week. (Happy anniversary, Christina!)

Anyway, I think I’ve been doing a bang-up job (no pun intended) on keeping this a family blog and yet having enough sexual innuendo and references to put it just a bit on the spicy side.

Let me turn serious for a moment and ask a question. (Yes, I CAN be serious. And thanks for asking.)

What is the sexiest thing a man can do to a woman?

Yes, I think I know the answer. I’ll tell you what I think, and you judge. As a writer of romance novels, I’d better get this right.

The sexiest thing a man can do to a woman is to love her totally and respect her.

Did you watch the movie “Sleepless in Seattle?” What was it about Tom Hanks’ character that turned on women all across the country? It was the fact that he had been completely in love with and devoted to his wife, the mother of his son.

That’s what they all heard, loud and clear on the radio show.

I know—Meg Ryan’s character was the “right” one, for a lot of reasons, so the story focused on her and the “magic” between the two of them. But still, she and the other women saw in him a person who loved and was devoted to one woman. That was the real turn-on.

That has been the “secret” of my wonderful marriage of almost 37 years. It’s not MY doing. I was swept away by Carol from the night we met. I would do anything for her, and she knows it. What’s the result? She’ll do anything for me!

No, we don’t always agree, but we respect each other and never belittle. We each try to be sensitive to what the other wants.

Now THAT’S sexy!

And didn’t I recently have a couple of posts about how wonderful my wife is?

The defense rests.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Today was D Day

Or maybe I should call it “A” Day, for Appeal.

My regular readers know the background. For all of you relative newcomers, first: Welcome! Mighty glad to have ya! Here’s a quick summary of the facts:

My older daughter Christina was fired back in January. She worked as a medical technician in a specialist’s office. In an obvious attempt to avoid “chargeback” for her unemployment, the office manager claimed she was fired for misconduct. She appealed, and I represented her at the subsequent hearing.

In a word, we won. We proved to the Tribunal’s satisfaction that there was no misconduct. Thus Christina began receiving unemployment checks.

By the way, she was six months pregnant at the time, and has since delivered for me a BEAUTIFUL grandson named Trevor. My first grandchild. I have a few pictures posted at THIS WEB SITE. (Feel free to visit, and to “OOOH” and “AAAH” all you like. Yes, he’s VERY cute! Thanks for noticing. Oh, there’ll be more pictures before too long!)

But I digress. During that hearing I hammered her employer pretty hard. I made him out to be a liar, among other things. He didn’t seem to like that much. In fact, I guess I overdid it a bit because he appealed the tribunal’s decision back to the full Commission.

The case was on the docket today. There is a lot at stake!

Although Christina has been diligent in trying to find a job, nobody was willing to hire a lady who would obviously need some time off in the near future to have her baby.

Yeah, we all know that pregnancy discrimination is illegal. But get real! Her condition was obvious at the interviews, and there were no offers.

Thus she has been receiving benefits for 4 months now. This is money that she and her husband have needed very badly to pay the rent and other fixed expenses. If the Commission overturns the Tribunal, Christina will have to pay back all that money. We’re talking several thousand dollars; this is money she doesn’t have any more. It’s been spent!

We expect that she’ll find a job fairly soon, now that she’s just about completed recovery from her C Section. But we’re all experiencing some anxiety waiting for the decision.

If the Commission upholds the Tribunal, I think it’s over. The only further appeal is to the courts. That would involve the employer spending more money than the case is worth trying to prosecute it. If the Commission overturns the Tribunal, then Christina loses. I doubt she could find an attorney to take her case to court (with little money involved) on a contingency basis. If she paid one, it would cost more that the unemployment benefits have been!

The other possibility is a re-hearing, if the Commission feels some evidence was overlooked or there was a procedural error. That would just extend this anxiety out by another 3-4 weeks, and none of us wants that.

I KNOW you’re all dying to know the verdict, and I’ve been teasing you all along by not telling you. Okay, here it is.

I don’t know yet.

Well, OF COURSE I called Austin and asked! How could you think otherwise? But I was told in a very professional and sterile tone that “the decision will be mailed out either this afternoon or tomorrow. You should have it by this weekend. We don’t release that information over the telephone.”

Well, WHY NOT? It’s supposed to be a public record! Are they afraid that the telephone is not secure, and someone might find out?

Oh, well, rules are rules. And bureaucrats are supposed to follow rules. So I won’t know until Christina calls me in a few days. Grrrrrr. Nothing I can do about it. You’ll know the same day I do.

Maybe I should call today “F” Day, for “Frustration.”

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Busy Monday

After a day at the office, I’m usually greeted with a cheery, “So, how’d your day go?”

And I think she really is interested, so I try to give her a sampling of the things I had to deal with. One thing about Human Resources, it’s seldom dull.

This week my principal focus is on payroll. Last week we got most of the essential benefits set up, but now I need to be sure that by Friday everybody is entered into the payroll system, all the information is correct, and the EFTs (Electronic Funds Transfers) go out on time.

There’s more to it than just the usual W-4 information for withholding and the employees’ base salary. For example, would you believe that out of 80 employees we have 7 who have a court-ordered garnishment for child support?

I wonder how that compares to national or even local statistics?

Not only does the correct amount of the garnishment have to be withheld from the employees’ pay, we also have to ensure that each garnished amount is sent to the correct county courthouse to be disbursed to the recipient.

Further complicating matters is: the date my plant was sold was not at the beginning or end of a pay period. So for this first pay cycle we have to include a few days that were really part of the last normal pay period, but weren’t paid by the former parent corporation.

And it’s not enough to just add in the correct number of hours worked, we have to see if any or all of those hours would have been overtime in that pay week and pay them accordingly.

Then, I’ve got two guys on temporary assignment with a different schedule from their normal one, yet we agreed to “keep them whole” (no reduction in total pay) for working that schedule. I have to figure out how to do that while complying with all applicable laws.

In the middle of all this, Christina called me with an issue about her unemployment compensation. I went online and looked up the answer to that for her.

Which reminds me, tomorrow is the day her former employer’s appeal of her unemployment eligibility is on the docket for the Workforce Commission’s review. I promised her I’d call in the afternoon to try to learn if the case is over and what the outcome is.

“So, Hubby, how was your day?”

“Oh, routine.” Pretty boring when you think about it. The work itself is not exciting, but it sure is important. Some days I figure I spend all my eight hours just keeping the plant and the company out of trouble.

Still, it feels good when you do it right. I had an employee come up to me in the lunch room today, shake my hand, and say, “John, you did a HELL of a job on those health benefits!”

Yep, feels good.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Best laid plans...

I had my blogging for the weekend all planned out. Saturday’s post was taken care of by the tag from Karyn about the... Well, about the punch bowl. I’ve decided I don’t really want to refer to that one very much in the future.

Although it DID result in some nice comments, and a poem by one of my daughters. So I guess it wasn’t ALL bad.

Anyway, today’s post was to be a Mothers Day tribute, or a VE day comment. I hadn’t decided.

No, I’m NOT old enough to remember VE day (and thanks a LOT for asking), but it was a very significant event in our country’s history and signaled the end to one phase of a war which helped define the national character in my generation.

But I find myself this morning feeling like the subject of yesterday’s post. And I DON’T mean the punch bowl, I mean what was in it.

It looks like my 2005 summer cold has arrived early this year.

Yeah, it seems to be an annual event that sometime during the warm weather I come down with a cold.

It’s not the flu. There’s no fever or vomiting or other digestive tract nastiness, just respiratory nastiness. Sneezing, coughing, blowing, snorting, gasping for breath, waking up plugged—those kinds of nastiness. Not to mention taking anti-everything pills that dry out your mouth.

Although I feel washed out and listless, I don’t go to bed and suffer in silence. Oh, no! That would be too easy. I stay up, moping around the house, not wanting to DO anything, and so I end up making Carol miserable too.

Well, they say that misery loves company, and I’m miserable, and I love Carol, so that would be a logical outcome. I share everything with Carol. That means I almost always end up sharing my colds with her. Yes, she’s quite grateful (and thanks for asking THAT, too), but she hides her gratitude well.

This cold is probably going to mess up tomorrow’s planned blog post as well. I was going to give all you faithful readers a blow-by-blow account of the dentist preparing molar number 19 for its crown. But now I’ll have to postpone that event.

No, it’s NOT because I’m a wimp and am looking for any excuse to avoid a trip to the dentist. (Well, there IS that. But not ONLY because of that.)

It’s because I can’t breathe through my nose most of the time.

I mean, come on. Picture yourself lying back with two sets of hands and about 5 instruments in your gaping mouth, one of them a rotary drill going about 25,000 RPM, and you start convulsively coughing or sneezing. Even if you suppress those involuntary impulses (and good luck doing that!) the back of your throat slowly fills up with saliva. If your nose is plugged up, how’re you going to breathe?

Think of the dentist and his assistant. Sure they’re wearing latex gloves, but do they really want to be fumbling around inside the mouth of someone who’s liable to sneeze and spray them with... well you get the idea. Of COURSE not!

So, unless tomorrow morning has brought a miraculous recovery, I will call and postpone.

You will be treated to a blog post on some other topic, and will just have to wait for that first hand account of the crown preparation.

Instead of going to the dentist, I’ll go to the office tomorrow and infect all the people there. I mean, sharing is good, right? Don’t they teach you that in preschool?

By the way, here’s a quiz for you (from an English major, remember). If you think you remember the lines from Robert Burns’ famous poem, WITHOUT LOOKING at the comments or in some reference, complete the following:

“The best-laid schemes
o’ mice and men...

You can leave your answer as a comment. Or not.

I feel too yucky to care.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I can't believe I'm doing this...

There must be another meme around, because I’m confused.

As my regular readers know, Karyn Lyndon and I read each other’s blogs and post comments on them. (I assume from my hit counter that the word “readers” should be plural, but one never knows. And after this post the number might take a plunge.) Yesterday she tagged me with the following challenge:

Here are the rules for the turd tag:
1. Write a four line poem with the 1st and 3rd lines being "turd in a punch bowl"
2. Make lines 2 and 4 rhyme, using any topic.
3. Pass along to 3 unsuspecting punchdrinking bloggers and make them put it on their blog site.

She then posted her effort and didn’t follow her own rules! And, I must say, I think she has considerably lowered the level of our otherwise very amicable and genteel “correspondence.”

But what do you expect from a blogger who has written a horror novel and a “chick lit” one as well? And has a house with a pool...

Say! Maybe that’s where her idea for this poem came from! Maybe one day she found something floating in her pool and discovered it was a...

Baby Ruth bar? (You’ll have to read her poem.)

OK, thusly challenged, I will make my attempt THE WAY THE RULES SAY! (Hummph!)

Turd in a punch bowl
Oh how gauche!
Turd in a punch bowl
Worse than a roach!

(Yeah, I know. “Gauche” doesn’t exactly rhyme with “Roach,” but gimme a little poetic license here, please. I mean after all, consider the material I’m trying to work with!)

(Oh, and the rules say to write a four-line poem. That’s WAY too limiting. I’ll attempt a much longer poem using four-line stanzas.)

Turd in a punch bowl
What can one think?
Turd in a punch bowl
Mustn’t it stink?

Turd in a punch bowl
Who put it there?
Turd in a punch bowl
Why do you care?

Turd in a punch bowl
Horrible sight!
Turd in a punch bowl
Gave me a fright.

Turd in a punch bowl
But, oh, how I thirst!
Turd in a punch bowl
Take it out, first?

Turd in a punch bowl
Nah, leave it there.
Turd in a punch bowl
Let ‘em all stare.

Turd in a punch bowl
Pour me a cup.
Turd in a punch bowl
I’ll take a big shlup.

Turd in a punch bowl
Not from that bowl!
Turd in a punch bowl
You think me a fool?

Turd in a punch bowl
What could be richer?
Turd in a punch bowl
Pour mine from the pitcher!

Well! THAT was certainly enlightening and entertaining.

Now I’m supposed to tag 3 others. I guess it’ll have to be three regulars, and maybe they’ll still come back and visit my blog after I tag them.

Okay gals, here goes. (And if you just don’t want to poop—oops, I meant “stoop”—to this level, I’ll understand. I had reservations, too.)

The Au Pair Abi-Gurl.

The African goddess, Michelle.

And you, Tish.

(Tina, I would have tagged you again, but after your last comment about internet bullying...)

(Christina, this would be right up your alley, but you don’t have a blog. Yet. If you want to take a stab, you can put it as a comment on MY blog.)

And finally, to the few readers I have left after that post, PLEASE come back tomorrow and next week. I’ll be back to my normal higher level of writing then.

Friday, May 06, 2005

How are you?

It’s an innocent greeting. You hear it every day. For the next day or so, pay attention when you greet someone, answer the telephone, or make a call.

There are variations. Sometimes it’s, “How ya doin’?” Or, “Ya doin’ OK?” “Everything all right?” But the basic greeting is always a question.

This is probably an extension of the (now somewhat archaic) formal greeting, “How do you do?” Which meant the same thing as, “How are you?”

(Unless you believe Louis Armstrong’s lyrics in his classic, “It’s a Wonderful World:”

I see friends shakin' hands, sayin', “How do you do?”
They're really saying, “I love you.”)

So what’s the difference? And why do I care?

Aw, it’s just another of my pet peeves surfacing. I know, I know—in the greater scheme of things this irritation ranks WAY down the list.

But unlike the former “How do you do?” this recent “How are you?” seems to require an answer.

It used to be proper for each party greeting the other to recite, “How do you do?” And that was that. Nobody answered the question. It wasn’t expected.

Not now! Today people assume you’ve asked the question even when you don’t. Think about it—how many times have you responded to “How are you?” with, “Fine, what’s going on?” or, “Fine. What’s up?” When you do, what do they answer? It’s always, “Fine, thanks.” Right?

Point is: nobody really cares what you ask. And nobody really cares about the answer. It’s just a formula for greeting people.

Being the curmudgeon that I sometimes am, I delight in NOT answering their question, nor posing it back to them. When someone asks, “How are you?” I’ll just say, “Hi.” What happens? They get rattled.

It’s funny to watch. They are so sure you’re going to follow the formula and say, “Fine, and you?” that when you don’t, they don’t know what to do.

I especially enjoy using my technique on telemarketers or other sales people (who sometimes call me at work). Just this morning I had the following telephone conversation:

Me: “John Earle.”

Voice: “Hello, is this Mr. Earle?”

Me: “Yes.” (Duh. I just told you my name. Obviously we don’t know each other.)

Voice: “Mr. Earle, I’m Leslie Smith of XYZ Benefits Providers. How are you today?”

Me (I’m not interested in whatever you are offering): “Hi, Leslie. What do you need this morning?”

Voice: “Fine, thanks. OH! I mean, uh… Well, I’d like to talk to you about… Um… Let me ask you a few questions about—”

Me: “Leslie, I really don’t have time right now. But thanks for calling.”

Rude? You bet. Effective? I don’t know, but I don’t feel obligated to answer some stranger’s questions when I’m busy with stuff that HAS to get done.

Oh, I suppose you're thinking I should lighten up, right? Just go along and get along, right? I should ignore the fact that I KNOW they don’t really care about how I feel and they aren’t really listening to my response, and make them feel comfortable with an automatic, “Fine, and you?”

Yeah, everything would go smoother that way.

But sometimes it’s fun to get people off balance. And be a curmudgeon.

Curmudgeon. Hey, Karyn, that’d be another fun word to analyze, like “paraphernalia.”

Anyway, I bet Leslie rolled her eyes when I said that to her and hung up.
There’s my pet peeve again!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Crown!

For a number of years I have used the screen name “Duke of Earle.” It was handy as a screen name for IM programs and other applications where a degree of anonymity was appropriate.

It’s a play on my last name, of course. But the origins lie in Gene Chandler’s number one song of 1962.

Yes, I’m old enough to remember that. (Thanks for asking. Thanks a LOT!) Even though many of you may not be old enough, if you’ve ever heard the song on an oldies’ station you’ll probably never forget the pounding, “Duke, duke, duke, Duke of Earl, duke, duke, Duke of Earl…”

I was in high school when that song was popular, and had to go through the inevitable comments from “friends” making the connection between the song and my name. There was also a period when I was called, “Earle the Pearl.” Which later evolved into, “Earle, the Pearl, the Girl.”

No, I’m not looking for sympathy.

My point is that I am soon advancing to a higher state of royalty.

Dukes don’t wear crowns, but on Monday I will be receiving a crown of solid gold. I will wear it proudly for years.

The bad news is it will be installed on molar number 19 in my lower jaw.

Like many people, I do not look forward to going to the dentist. Also like many people, I go anyway. I’d really like to keep as many of these original issue teeth as I can for as long as I can, so I get them cleaned and checked twice a year.

I began to notice a while back that ol’ number 19 was becoming sensitive to hot and cold stuff. So, did I go straight to the dentist to have it checked?

Of course not. I did what most people would do. I waded way out into the middle of that river in Egypt. I told myself the problem was temporary. It’s probably a gum irritation, not a bad tooth at all. The sensitivity will pass.

I ignored it. In fact, sometimes I’d forget completely. Then I’d get thirsty and take a big mouthful of ice water. ZING! Oh, that hurt!

Well, last week I had it checked and found that the river in Egypt was a fraud. The verdict was that I needed a full cast gold crown to cover the tooth surface all the way to the gum line.

Now I have all weekend to look forward to my dentist appointment on Monday. That brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Blue Monday.”

Hey, Fats Domino sang “Blue Monday” in 1957. I wonder if ol’ Fats ever jammed with Gene Chandler?

Maybe I’ll change my handle to “Prince of Earle.”

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Propa -- what?

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Karyn said she’d been up all night propagating.

Now, she was talking about being tagged by me and participating in the “meme.” If that doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t been following my blog for the last few days. Please apply 19 lashes with a wet noodle to a non-sensitive part of your anatomy, and then keep reading. (And don’t let it happen again. Next time the punishment will be much more severe!)

Anyway, “propagating” is a good word, but from her usage it seemed to take on a bit of an ugly feel.

After a little research I found that the word has the same root as “propaganda,” which is what happens when a male goose propagates, right?

Well, I guess that would only be correct in the verb form. As a noun it’s more of a combined form, like “gentleman” is a combination of “gentle” and “man.” As in the following sentence:

“She was a proper goose, and he was a propaganda.”

All of which makes me wonder why the word shows up in the news and in stories so much seeming to refer to slanted information, or information intended to sway opinion. Is that because of the slanted posture and swaying motion of the gander when he’s in the act of propagating?

This is all very complicated.

And I’m still wondering about Karyn spending all night in this activity.

When I challenged her about it (again, see the comments) she reacted defensively and claimed it was MY word. Well, OKAY. It was my word. But I wasn’t the one DOING it all night!

I didn’t even realize she HAD any geese.

(If you’re confused, blame Chenoah’s meme. That’s what I do.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Thanks for the TAG. (I think.)

Chenoah tagged me for this game that she and others refer to as a meme.

What the heck is that?

I’m an English major and I didn’t know, so I did what everybody does these days—I Googled it. The first link was to http://www.memecentral.com/. I was informed that, “Memes are contagious ideas, all competing for a share of our mind in a kind of Darwinian selection. As memes evolve, they become better and better at distracting and diverting us from whatever we'd really like to be doing with our lives. They are a kind of Drug of the Mind. Confused? Blame it on memes.”

Hey, works for me! Since I’m frequently confused, I now have something I can blame it on. Trouble is, I don’t know how to pronounce it. Is it “Mee-Mee,” or “May-May,” or maybe “MEEM?” How about “Mem-mee?”

Whatever! That web site even talks about “memetics.” Going through the pronunciation possibilities of that word gives me a headache.

The instructions are: “You choose three (or five) things from the list below and finish the sentence or the thought. Then you tag three other bloggers and the thing propagates.”

If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer
If I could be a musician
If I could be a painter
If I could be a doctor
If I could be a gardener
If I could be a missionary
If I could be a chef
If I could be an architect
If I could be a linguist
If I could be a psychologist
If I could be a librarian
If I could be a lawyer
If I could be an inn-keeper
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider
If I could be a bonnie pirate
If I could be an athlete
If I could be a back-up dancer
If I could be a midget stripper
If I could be a proctologist
If I could be a TV talk show host
If I could be an actor
If I could be a Jedi
If I could be a mob boss
If I could be a back-up singer
If I could be a CEO
If I could be a movie reviewer
If I could be an astronaut
If I could be a world famous blogger
If I could be a justice on any court in the world
If I could be any current famous political figure (or married to one)

Gee. Okay. Hmmm.

I guess I’ll start with:

If I could be a linguist, I guess I’d be pasta.

No, wait! That’s “linguini.” A linguist is somebody who talks a lot, right? I’m already one of those. (Is “linguini” the plural of “linguist”?)

Maybe I ought to say, “If I weren’t a linguist, I wouldn’t talk so much. In any language. Especially Italian, since I don’t even know if ‘linguini’ is an Italian word, but it sounds like it.” Or maybe...

Oh, skip it. I’m going on to the next one.

If I could be a bonnie pirate, I guess I’d be out on the ocean stopping ships and trying to rob them of “bonnies.” Whatever those are. I need to Google that word too.

(This meme is hard! But I’ll do ONE more, just because Chenoah asked me so nicely.)

Hmmmm... OK, this one should be pretty easy.

If I could be a professor, I’d profess a lot. Most likely I’d pontificate as well. And I’d give a lot of my students Cs and Ds, because that’s what my professors always liked to give. I’d definitely publish something erudite and gain tenure and then I could profess and pontificate about a lot of politically incorrect stuff and not get fired. That sounds like fun.

I’d also get together with other professors and we’d profess and pontificate together. We’d talk so much, people would think we were all linguini.

Except I don’t even look Italian, much less sound like one.

There! That wasn’t so hard, now that I’m finished.

That last one got me to thinking—(a stretch, I know)—if “pro” is the opposite of “con,” is “profess” the opposite of “confess?” So then, if a con artist were a pro but got arrested anyway, would he profess or confess? Or keep silent and plead the Fifth Amendment?

If I could be a justice on any court in the world, maybe I’d decide sticky issues like that one.


I hereby tag Tina, and Viki, and Karyn. Get after it, gals! Tina, that means you HAVE to do another blog post after all these months. Heck, if you don’t like those particular “If I could be a...” items, make up some of your own.

Like the Nike commercials used to say, “Just do it!” Ignore Nancy Reagan’s old refrain of “Just say No.”

I’m getting confused by all this. There must be a meme nearby.

Monday, May 02, 2005

So Many Comments, So Little Time...

All right, you ladies. This calls for a response!

Actually, your comments call for SEVERAL responses.

(Ahem.) First, Michelle. Remember yourself, woman! You are a goddess! Goddesses (is that the plural of goddess?) cannot be put to shame by mortals. I’m sure you have many talents and skills that Carol could not match. Well, some, I’d imagine. One or two? Hey, there’s gotta be something!

I’ll admit, she’s definitely a hard act to follow.

As for her out-blogging me? Well, duh! Of course she would. She claims that she is not good at creative writing. She tends to think in very logical terms and not in fanciful “what ifs”. (Our daughter Elizabeth says her mom is a Vulcan. All you Trekkies will understand.) So where she might not amuse you with far-out analogies (and unlike me she hates puns), she would be masterful at persuasive writing.

Outwit me? Outsmart me? Well, yeah, those too. She’s a lot smarter than I am. Just ask our daughters.

Viki, I already responded to you privately, via email, about Carol’s doubtful interest in your proposal. She did find it flattering, though.

Karyn, you have raised a very sore subject. I don’t usually discuss my golf score when talking about Carol’s. It used to be embarrassing. Men we would be paired with would watch each of us hit a tee shot, snicker, and ask me, “Does your husband play golf?”

Let me just say that Carol is a very good golfer. She’s one of the few grandmothers I know who can routinely score in the low to middle 80s.

I, on the other hand, routinely finish the round in just about the same number of minutes as she does. That makes us about equal, n’est-ce pas? I mean, who cares about strokes? Isn’t the game all about walking and getting exercise and enjoying the great outdoors? Scores can just get in your way!

But I’m not embarrassed about the difference in our number of strokes any more, as I used to be. Now I’m totally humiliated. Her game just seems to keep on getting better as the years pass, while my game goes on vacation a lot and seems to return less and less often.

Okay, okay! It was a (mumble, mumble) 94 (mumble). And that’s one of the best rounds I’ve had this year. Happy now?

And, last but not least, Chenoah. I’ve been on a steady worm diet for a LOOONG time. I’m almost starting to enjoy them. You know the old sayings about, “It’s hard to be humble when you...(fill in the end).” In my case, living with a cross between Wonder Woman and Super Girl, it’s hard NOT to be humble. (But I try, REALLY hard!) Humility is the normal state of affairs.

Oh, thanks for the Tag. I’ll work on that for tomorrow!

And yes, Carol could do better than I will on all of those items, too!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

More Romance. (Hey, that’s what I write!)

I read yesterday’s post to Carol. She was pleased, I think. Well, I’m pretty sure she was—do you know what we did last night??

No, that’s none of your business.

Anyway, this morning she commented, “You know, you didn’t mention some other things I’ve done.” So we had a discussion about them. And I decided you need to know just how talented she really is.

Since we bought this house we’re living in—some 20 years ago—she has not only laid a bunch of tile flooring. She has also:

1) Re-textured most of the ceilings. The original stuff had been sprayed on (cheap). It was dusty, but if you tried to clean it the beads and flecks of texture would flake off. So Carol scraped it ALL off and re-textured by hand. Some of the ceilings are uniform, others have a swirl pattern. One room has no texture, but a hand-painted “sky” scene on the ceiling.

2) Wallpapered both bathrooms.

3) Put up a wallpaper mural in the front entrance hallway.

4) Re-painted most of the baseboard moldings.

5) Stripped and re-finished the surfaces of the bathroom cabinets.

6) Re-done the kitchen wall surfaces to look like they are tiled with Mexican hand-painted tiles. Her method? She applied drywall “floating compound” (the same stuff she textured the ceilings with) to the walls and then scored vertical and horizontal lines in 4-inch squares to give the appearance of tiles. She then hand-painted many of the 4-inch “tiles” with pictures of fruits and vegetables, birds, and so on, before painting over the entire surface with a glossy clear lacquer finish. The effect is of a tiled wall.

(Take a deep breath. I’m not finished.)

7) Mastered many features of Adobe Photo Shop on the computer. All of the Africa pictures you can see in the journal on my web site were cropped, re-touched, or otherwise modified and re-saved as JPEGs by her.

8) Completed a number of outdoor landscaping projects.

9) Made many of her own garments (she sews like a pro).

10) Made (from scratch) wedding dresses for both of our daughters, and for one of their best friends who was almost like an adopted daughter to us.

(Another deep breath, please).

During the first six of those 20 years she also home-schooled our daughters from 6th grade through high school. In case you’re wondering, both went on to get a BA degree. One of those (Elizabeth’s) was magna cum laude.

WHEW! There’s more, but I sense you’re approaching exhaustion.

Yes, I married a combination of Wonder Woman and Super Girl.

Yes, I’m the luckiest man alive.

Why did she ever stoop to marry someone who isn't even close to being Superman? Well, you’ll just have to read my book (once some really smart publisher recognizes how well-written it is and how popular it will be and what a great movie Hollywood can make of it, and publishes it), because the whole story is in there.

Maybe opposites DO attract.

Meanwhile, I guess I’ll tell you what we did last night. After our round of golf yesterday afternoon (she shot an 89—a bit high for her—but she played the back nine from the forward MEN’S tees, not the ladies’), we had Chinese carry-out for dinner, and went to bed early. That’s all the details you’re gonna get.

There. I have the best marriage of anybody I know. Am I qualified to write romance stories, or what?