Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father’s Day

Sunday was the most unusual Father’s Day in my memory.  It began innocently enough – I took Mom to church with me and then came back to their condo to play cribbage with Dad (just like I do most Sundays when we’re all in town).  Afterward, I did my usual Sunday grocery shopping.  Took them home, put them away, and that was it – or so I thought.  Ryan was going with Emily to visit her dad in Kentucky, and my family wasn’t getting together because Blake’s bunch was headed back home from Tennessee – so we planned to compare schedules and get together later in the week on an evening when all three boys and two fiancees were available.  Since it was raining, the rest of my day was going to consist of dishes, laundry, and watching the U.S. Open golf tournament on TV – and I was looking forward to it.

Then my phone buzzed.

It was Ryan – he and Emily were on the way to our house.  Their plans had changed and they decided to hang out here for the afternoon.

Then my phone buzzed again.

It was Blake’s wife Lisa, texting from the passenger seat northbound on I-75 to compare schedules.  About a dozen texts later, we determined that there was no evening during the week when everyone was available.  I was about to send a text of surrender – I had already given Dad his card and gift (a keyboard for his new Smart TV) anyway – when Lisa beat me to the text and said “How about 5:00 today?”

It was already 3:00 and I thought they were nuts since they had just arrived at home, but everyone was available.  So I dropped everything and went into Homemade Ice Cream Mode – I had all of the fixings and what I thought was just enough time to get it done.  Silly me – it wasn’t done at 4:45 so I unplugged it and headed to Blake’s, where I plugged it in again.  It still never hardened sufficiently, so we put it in the freezer for about half an hour and eventually served Brownies and Slush.

Lisa always has her camera handy, and wanted to take some Father’s Day pictures.

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Mom and Dad both like to read their cards out loud . . .

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Somehow, all of the ladies begged their way out of these shots.  And I noticed that it appears I have been promoted to the Senior Citizens’ Couch.  I have already heard all of the cracks about my hands on my knees – I plead inexperience.

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Earlier in the afternoon, I received this card from my son Ryan, who has learned at least two things in 25 years -- 1) it is a good idea to bring your dad to tears once a year with a card that says you "get it"; 2) if the sentiment is correct, it is acceptable to edit the card to the proper occasion. And thanks to his fiancee Emily, who no doubt taught him both things.

By the end of the day, the dishes and laundry were still undone, and I saw very little of the U.S. Open – and I happily traded it all for the Father’s Day we had.  There were lots of posts on my Facebook feed from friends who wished they could spend one more Father’s Day with their dads – I treasure the fact that I still can.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Miles and Miles for a Smile . . . and Other Stories

I should probably start every post with “I have been really busy lately” – or maybe I should just stop saying it and assume that everyone knows that I have been really busy lately.  Regardless, there comes a point where enough pictures and stories have accumulated that it’s time for another “grab bag post” – so here we go . . .

There was this big show in West Springfield, Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago.  You might have heard of it – some of you might even have been there.  And I surely went through quite a bit just to get there.


This is the only half decent picture I took all weekend.  Thankfully, others did better . . .

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Pat Larson from Heirloom Productions did his usual stealth photography at each booth – he usually does a great job of getting shots of me from behind. 

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Our customer Pamela Young had a unique vantage point for the Saturday giveaway, and she was kind enough to text me the photos she took when we went behind the curtain to visit the Wonderful Wizard of Oz . . .

After the show, we did a quick booth teardown so I could get on the road.  Last year after the show, I spent a morning in Cooperstown, NY visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This year, I went to Cooperstown again – but this time it was to watch the future of baseball, not the past.

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Cooperstown Dreams Park is an amazing complex – 25 baseball fields where weeklong tournaments are held all summer long for “12 and under” youth teams.  My neighbor Brady Stone was playing there and his tournament started on Saturday – his dad told me about it a couple of days before I left for Springfield and I just couldn’t be that close and not stop by to support Brady.  I knew I was going to get to watch him play on Monday morning, but light traffic and rain delays got me to Cooperstown in time to catch the last inning of his Sunday evening game, where Brady’s younger brother Bryce (who was playing outside between the fields with friends) greeted me with “What are YOU doing here?”  The left picture was taken Sunday night – it had a “Field of Dreams” look to it.  The one on the right was taken during Brady’s game on Monday – behind the fence in the distance you can see the barracks where the players and coaches stayed all week – the parents are not allowed in that part of the complex.

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Brady at the plate on Monday morning, and the team meeting after their 8-3 win.

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Found a picture on the Cooperstown Dreams Park of Brady’s team (they are called “Custom X” – hence the crossed forearms).  Brady is third from left, and you’ll notice the solemn look on his face – he never smiles for pictures.  That made the picture that his mom gave me when they got home even more special – Becky said that in the hundreds of pictures she took, he only smiled twice.


When I got back, Debbie and Patti were spending almost all of their time shipping the 800 Envelope Punch Boards that arrived while I was gone.  This was just a small sample of the mountains of mail that went to the post office last week.  We’re almost all the way through April now, and more are expected in a week to ten days that will fill all of the remaining orders.

Under normal circumstances, I would have dug right in and helped them, but Gary had other ideas . . .


He found out about a local printing company that was going out of business, so he bought 29 pallets of paper (I heard something about 80,000 pounds) from them.  That of course required that someone unload the booth off our truck and make several trips back and forth to get it.  Getting several loads of paper on the truck was not a problem – there was a loading dock handy.  But getting them off at our warehouse and store was – we don’t have a dock at either place.  So I was a dusty sweaty mess most of last week . . .

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Except for the half hour that I was stuck in the back of the truck while a monsoon blew through town.  I was only 20 feet from the back door at the store, but I would have been soaked – and I don’t like to be wet under any circumstances.

That pretty much brings everything up-to-date from a professional standpoint.  But I’ll share one more image with you from my distant past that I dug out earlier this week . . .

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This is one of my all-time favorite pictures – walking into my high school for graduation in 1976.  Someday I need to dig out another picture that shows my outfit in color – the shoes just scream ’70s (white with red suede on top, fake woodgrain heels, and gold buckles).  This picture is from the yearbook – oh how I wish I had the original.  The boy walking with me is now 47 – he is still my little brother, but in time he also became my best friend.