Birthday Card from Grandpa

Elizabeth received a birthday card from Grandpa today with $20 inside! She said, “I love your dad! Tell him thank you very much! Your dad is rich! I wouldn't have thought such an old old person would have so much money!”

This article/post is copyrighted. Please do not reprint, reproduce or distribute it (or its images) in whole or in part (other than to “share” a brief excerpt with a link to the original) in any form without our consent. Thanks!

Great Suction!

In preparation for the much-anticipated Comcast installation (Internet, not TV), I do as they suggest and clear out a space where I want them to put the cable wall jack. Once I have that space cleared, I decide to vacuum the area. It’s almost an instinctive reaction: You clear out a space that hasn’t seen the light of day in months, then vacuum the spot while it’s exposed.

As part of this “clearing out,” I disconnect the phone that’s plugged in near there, leaving its cord on the floor. I did at least kick it underneath the desk, but it’s just sitting there on the floor at this point.

So, I happily run the vacuum, thinking vacuous vacuum-related thoughts, when I come upon that loose phone cord. Instead of picking it up — as a smarter, less lazy person would have done — I try to vacuum around it. And, you guessed it, I came too close, and I’ll be darned if that Dyson vacuum cleaner didn’t suck that cord right up, yanking the phone itself off the desk in the process! Not only that, it snapped the adapter cord at the base of the AC adapter, so now that is completely useless.

I have to find another AC adapter that will work — which, as you know if you’ve ever tried to match a pile of adapters with its appropriate electronic device, is highly unlikely — or I need to just put an old phone back into use, which sucks because the one I ruined had a speaker option and a nice little screen for caller ID. I could buy another office phone, but really don’t want to spend the money. I’ve been buying too many things lately in preparation for this Comcast cable connection!

I should just punish myself and make do with one of these old thrift-store used phones.

Why Is Boston Terrorism But Not Aurora Sandy Hook Tucson and Columbine

Why is Boston 'terrorism' but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?

Glenn Greenwald asks in his latest column, “Why is Boston 'terrorism' but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?” Can it be because the suspects in this one are Muslim? Can only Muslims commit terrorism? What have we become? — LUV News

Dad’s 94th Birthday, Part 3

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Old Sacramento

Once Bijou and her people hooked up with Elizabeth and her people, our first stop was a candy store called Candy Heaven (do not go to “”!). As Michael noticed, there’s almost nothing but candy stores there. And they were making money hand over fist. Michael was, as usual, smarter and more disciplined than I was, limiting his daughter to just $5 worth. I think Elizabeth cost me $12 in candy before we got out of there.

When Greg and June joined us, they wanted to stop for ice cream. Elizabeth got one, too. Like I’ve said, whatever she wanted, she pretty much got on this trip. Spoiled, I know, but she was actually very well behaved most of the time, and we were on vacation, so I didn’t mind spoiling her a little.

For dinner, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant across the street from some sports bar. As we ate, I realized the sports bar across the way was the one in which a couple of innocent men were murdered. I just happened to read about it online while researching things to do in Sacramento. Being murdered was not on my list. What happened was some guy accidentally spilled his beer on a girl. The girl turned out to be a local gangster’s girlfriend. An argument broke out, the bouncer stepped in, and at some later point two gangsters shot both the beer-spiller and the bouncer, dead. The story I’d read was about the conviction of the girlfriend, the one who insisted on the shooting. For spilling a beer! Psycho b****!

Anyway, I was in the middle of recounting that story, and had just said the words “…the guy spilled his beer …” when Elizabeth next to me dumped her large raspberry fruit tea onto the floor. She mostly missed Bijou and herself. Everyone, Greg especially, was amazed at the timing of it all.


With the sun about to set, Michael said they “had a plane to catch,” so everyone said their goodbyes. We ended up walking alongside each other for another block, though, feeling awkward because, like, we had already said our goodbyes, and yet, here we were just walking along. Eventually, it really was time to say goodbye, so Elizabeth and I walked back to Don’s hotel to get Dad’s car. Elizabeth wanted to go swimming and Don’s hotel just happened to have a pool.

It was almost dark by the time we changed clothes back in our room and returned to the pool. Much too cool outside for swimming, but we swam, anyway. We should have first jumped into the main pool and gotten used to that. But, we hit the hot tub first, warmer than most baths, which made the main pool even harder to take. After all the walking I’d been doing all day, I really didn’t want to get out of that whirlpool. It felt nice to just float a while. But Elizabeth was insistent. She was going swimming with or without me.

The main pool was heated, but not nearly enough. We did eventually get used to it, but I kept everything below my neck underwater to avoid the wind. Turns out, Elizabeth had learned more at last summer’s YMCA swim lessons than I realized. She never got any sort of certificate, but in the pool now she was doing pretty well. She demonstrated, for example, how the “doggie paddle” only works for dogs. When a person does it, they sink. She did the American crawl, too, though she didn’t know its name. She went underwater often, which I never like, but she said she needed to practice holding her breath. I was thinking she could do that in the tub at home, but I let her do it. I was right there to pull her out, if necessary.

The Horses

Early Sunday morning, Doug drove me, Elizabeth, Milan and Natalia to the airport and just dumped us there. I don’t know why! But seriously, that’s where I picked up my rental car. From there, in a shiny new “mid-sized sedan” Chrysler 200, we drove 2½ hours north to Jeannie’s ranch in Cottonwood.

By the time we got there, I was very happy to be pulling into Jeannie’s driveway! She and her grandkids Shayden and Skyla were out in one of the paddocks preparing the horses and saddles. Tiffany was off at one of her other jobs. David was in the house, sick. Matt was around somewhere, probably lurking, waiting to sneak in to my rental car and smoke cigarettes! Inside joke. Milan had expressed concern that Matt might do that despite explicit instructions from the man behind the car rental counter that this was a non-smoking car.

We all rode horses. As I told Jeannie, I’m not a very good rider. I can see where it might take a while to get it right. All of the kids did much better, even Elizabeth, who hasn’t ridden a horse in half a lifetime. She’s a natural. Other than Shayden, who lives there, Natalia seemed to be the most accomplished rider. When it came time for “Part 1, Part 2, our consent. Thanks!

Dad’s 94th Birthday, Part 2

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The Zoo

The next morning, I was up before Elizabeth. I couldn’t wait for her to wake up, so I snuck downstairs for some free coffee. She would have freaked out to wake up and find me gone. Passing through the lobby, I said good morning to an elderly male resident. He was pleasant, but mostly ignored me in favor of his morning TV news.

Returning to our room, I was glad to see Elizabeth still asleep. When I later confessed that I had sneaked out, she said, “Don’t ever do that again! Don’t worry about letting me sleep. Wake me up.”

She later told my brother Don what I had done, without her permission. Don asked, “How could he get your permission when you were asleep?” She said I should have woken her. Don said, “You’re pretty bossy!” She replied, “Well, this is basically my vacation.” It might sound like she’s a spoiled brat, but when she says these things, it’s usually with such charm and good humor that you just have to laugh.

I made scrambled eggs and hash browns with what Don had left behind for us. He had the guest room before we arrived. I offered Elizabeth some, but she didn’t want any. She wanted to go out for breakfast. No surprise there. She wants to go out for every meal, and Tara and I keep explaining that we would go broke if we did that.

I texted Don, wondering where he was, and could I borrow Dad’s car? Trying to save money, I didn’t plan on renting a car until Sunday for the trip to Jeannie’s ranch. While we walked and texted, I mentioned breakfast, so Don invited us to a free breakfast at his hotel a couple blocks away. And it was a great breakfast! Do-it-yourself waffle iron, cereal, eggs, toast and fruit — all free! It would have cost $10 a plate at IHOP with everything we got. As usual, Elizabeth ate roughly half of everything she’d put on her plates — yes, plates, plural — leaving me to scavenge the remains, knowing I hate to see food go to waste.

Finished with that, Elizabeth was already planning her next move. “Let’s go to the zoo!” she said. I had mentioned prior to the trip that it might be something to do in Sacramento. Elizabeth always wants to see the zoo, no matter what town we’re in. Good to know if we visit her cousin Michael and family in San Diego, which has possibly the world’s greatest zoo. We spent a solid two hours at the zoo, with the last half hour in the gift shop. We had started out in the gift shop, actually, where I bought my obligatory, every-four-years Sacramento Zoo hat. I knew I’d need one for walking around. When I complained that this second visit to the gift shop was taking too long, Elizabeth said, “Well, you know how us girls like to shop!” I don’t remember everything she ended up with, but one item was a small tin with some sort of jungle design on it. Inside were little mints looking a lot like TicTacs. She paid $4 for that, even after I said she could get TicTacs for less than a dollar at any dollar store. Oh well.

The Part 1, Part 3

This article/post is copyrighted. Please do not reprint, reproduce or distribute it (or its images) in whole or in part (other than to “share” a brief excerpt with a link to the original) in any form without our consent. Thanks!

Dad’s 94th Birthday, Part 1

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Going to California

A couple weeks ago for my Dad’s 94th birthday, I brought my (almost) 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. A couple of family members would finally get to meet her. Her mom, Tara, had no vacation days available and so stayed behind. She was probably happy to have me and Elizabeth gone a few days.

Tara dropped us at the ). But I digress.

So, with a mixture of disbelief and disgust, I look at this agent in front of us and say, “Excuse me?” But, he either changes his mind suddenly — à la “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” from Star Wars — or I had completely misread his intentions (probably the latter), as he just smiled, gestured with the other hand, and said, “You can go ahead.” He was simply letting us into a much shorter line, doing us a favor. When Elizabeth asked about it, I said, “That man just did us a favor. He was being nice.” No sense passing my authority figure issues (paranoia?) onto her. Then again, we were the only people the agent let through, and there were plenty of people behind us. Hmmm.

The first leg of the flight, to Salt Lake City, was uneventful. Elizabeth didn’t sleep a wink, even though it was getting late. I was kicking myself for leaving her Christmas gift/distraction device , Part 2, Part 3

This article/post is copyrighted. Please do not reprint, reproduce or distribute it (or its images) in whole or in part (other than to “share” a brief excerpt with a link to the original) in any form without our consent. Thanks!

Shaking While Braking

Three and a half hours in the Pep Boys waiting room is always time well-spent, wouldn't you agree? 🙂 I'm home now, appreciating the comfort of my office chair, but Pep Boys seriously needs to consider putting more comfortable seats in their waiting area. I did get some things done while waiting, at least. I knew it'd be a while so I brought my laptop. Luckily, they provide free wi-fi. Who doesn't these days?

I focused on my book-related online chores like updating my Amazon Author's page, figuring out how to publish a Kindle ebook to hard copy through CreateSpace, etc. The laptop battery held up for most of it, but by the end both the laptop and iPhone batteries were about to die.

I had printed out several Pep Boys coupons ahead of time, not sure which one would apply. Naturally, I didn't print out the one for 15% off brake parts, the one I ended up needing. [The cashier ended up running it through manually as a “military discount” which, I guess, is 15%.] Other than an oil change, we weren't sure ahead of time which one I'd need.

Tara's Honda Accord's front end was “shaking while braking” pretty badly at high speeds. It seemed fine to me this morning as I drove it, but I never took it on the Interstate. Tara thought the tires were the problem. Other than one of them being low, I thought the front-end alignment might be the problem. Turns out we were both wrong.

Luckily, Tara suggested that I pull up the 15% brakes coupon on my smartphone and show them that and see if that would work. It did, saving us us $50!

It's nice having a smart wife. 🙂

Doing the Dishes

So, my wife tells me most people do the dishes every day. I don't believe her. “Every day?” I ask.

“Yes, every day,” she says.

“Every single day?” I persist. She nods. “You don't mean,” I search for clarification, “it's something that is an 'every day' thing, but in reality is not done literally every single day, do you?”

“No,” she insists. “What I'm saying is that most people, or at least someone in the house, probably a woman, does the dishes, literally, every single day … unless they're on vacation or something.”

“Wow,” is all I can say. “I just find that hard to believe.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” she asks.

“Oh, no, definitely not,” I assure her. “I'm sure you're as honest as … the next wife.”

“You'll be looking for your next wife if you keep this up!”