Archive for the ‘family’ category

Texas. Utah. Home.

November 7, 2022

xi9aEahEMy wife, Muri and I moved here to Utah late in 2019. We had found a beautiful house we could buy outright in the community of Daybreak but the real incentive was the presence of our Grandkids a few miles away. We had lived in Orange County California for over fifty years in a beautiful house in the hills that I thought we’d never leave. Especially for Utah. The first year was a nightmare … COVID descended upon us and my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know if we’d have made it without family close by. By the end of 2020, cancer treatment was successful, and vaccines had brought the pandemic under control. We set to enjoying having our grandkids nearby and getting to know the people in our over-55 community. And we began to enjoy the natural beauty around us. Still, every once in a while, we’d look at each other and say, Really? Utah? (more…)

Dance Dads

May 28, 2021

paradeIf you’ve ever raised a girl, particularly one interested in dance, you’ve probably know about Dance Moms.  Even if your daughter didn’t dance, you probably knew a few because they have a certain reputation … among other things, for living vicariously through their daughters.    There is even a reality show (to the degree that any of those are reality … I think they are all staged) called Dance Moms.   But unless your daughter was involved in dance, you probably don’t know much about Dance DadsDance Dads are more behind the scenes, building props and sets as needed, putting them up as needed at field shows and competitions where if we took too long the girls lost points.    And, just like the Dance Moms, sitting through hours of loud music and good-to-awful dance routines to see our daughters dance for 5 or 10 minutes.  And while we may never be able to tell pique turn from a plie, we gradually learn what they look like done right … and cheer right along with the Dance Moms when our daughters do them right. (more…)

On Sadness

May 8, 2021

poemsI try to read one poem from Garrison Keillor’s poetry collection, Good Poems, every morning.  I open at random to a page and start reading.  I admit, at least half, I don’t get, nor do I know why they are good poems.    But this morning I opened to John Updike’s poem, Dogs Death and found myself crying.  It is an incredibly sad piece about a rescued dog that has an undetected illness.  Beyond the sadness of the poem, it reminded me of losing my beloved Tuxedo cat, Claude, to cancer 2 years ago.  But when I was still crying 5 minutes later, I knew I was about to relearn a lesson that I’ve relearned many times before:  If I continually stuff feelings of sadness, they will come out as anger or disinterest in life or in isolation.  And eventually find their way out as sorrow, triggered by some totally unrelated (and probably minor) sad something.  An old friend and psychologist once told me that the reason we like sad songs is that they allow us to indirectly process sadness we can’t (or won’t) deal with directly.  Obviously, sad poems work, too. (more…)

Fishing (Again)

June 26, 2020

My Dad, Frank, was an avid fisherman.  Even though he worked fifty or sixty hours a week, he still found time to go to one of the local fishing spots for a couple of hours.   He frequently returned empty-handed, sometimes because he threw back little ones and sometimes because he threw back keepers.   Although he was a fan of catching fish, he was not fond of eating them.   But the truth is, he just liked some solitary time walking along the edge of Lake Saltenstall or one of the other lakes within a half hour of home.  It was natural, then that I became a fisherman at first with Dad to show me how.   Sometimes we’d rent a rowboat and fish the shores of the big lake at Saltenstall.  Other times we’d fish the streams at Chatfield Hollow, or a lake in Guilford where his boss let us use his boat. Incidentally, one evening in 1952, Dad landed the largest bass caught in Connecticut that year, an 11 pound beauty.  Opening day was special … we’d rise early and stop for breakfast at the New Idea Diner, then head to Chatfield Hollow to compete with the dozens of anglers fishing for trout.   Beginners, my Dad called them, some of them idiots.   One particularly cold spring, I lost my footing on a slippery rock ans sat down in the brook.   My hip boots filled with freezing cold water, which my Dad thought was hysterical.   Looking back, it was … but at the time, not so much. (more…)

Mother’s Day

May 10, 2020

I was in a Hallmark store yesterday, looking for a Mother’s Day card for my wife. There were thirty guys crammed into the six foot wide aisle and ten more waiting for space … not one woman … the Y-chromosome must come equipped with a procrastination gene. Judging by the cards on the shelf, there seem to be several categories of male card buyers, probably determined by Hallmark though years of focus groups. There’s the Bigger is Better Buyer who believes that the best way to honor Mom is to give her the largest card on the block … though as a standard-sized card buyer, I’m inclined to think they’re over-compensating. There are the Humorous Card Buyers who can’t stand to see their Mom or wife cry … or laugh at their attempts to be serious. There are the Garish Card Buyers who think that every Mom’s dream card is covered with pink and magenta roses, lace, bows, and enough glitter to adorn an Elton John jacket. Then there’s the largest group, the Guilty Buyers who once or twice a year realize that they haven’t expressed their appreciation often enough to the women in their lives. Guilty Buyers always choose cards that begin with I know I don’t tell you often enough but … and follow it with a poetic paean to Mom that would make the Virgin Mary blush. As in … I know I don’t tell you often enough but besides being my best friend, lover, soulmate, and angel … the most perfect wife in the universe … you have been a perfect mother to our fabulous children. You alone have made them the beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful people that they are. They are your gift to the world and I am grateful to have been by your side as you’ve worked your miracles. I’ll try to express my appreciation more often next year. Gack! Me? I like a card that’s sincere and tasteful … so I read a lot of cards before I find the one comes home with me for Mother’s Day.

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Shelter-In Place Scavenger Hunt

April 9, 2020

So, we had no sooner settled into our house in Utah and started to enjoy visiting with our grandkids than the coronavirus reared it’s ugly (if microscopic) head.   At first we visited carefully but as things got worse, we stopped regular visits and, of course, all their activities which we love to attend are shut down.  We still get to see them car to car in the park, or at quick visits when their Mom drops off some goodies for us and we can still Facetime.  But I wanted to have a more regular presence in their lives and perhaps provide a break from boredom.  So I came up with a game I call Shelter-in-Place Scavenger Hunt.   Every day I text them something for each of them to find and text back a picture.  Of course, these are 21st century techie kids who can Google, cut and paste and download pictures on their devices, so I try to make it educational and interesting.  This is this morning’s game and their answers (click to enlarge):

It keeps us in touch every day and they seem to enjoy it.   Or maybe they just know it makes their Papa happy … they are good kids that way.

Stay home and stay safe.

TBT – Looking Like Dad

September 19, 2019

This is a Throwback Thursday repost of a post about my Dad I that first posted in April of 2011 with the title Family Resemblance.   I miss my Dad every time I read it.

For most of my life, I thought I looked like my mother but as I aged and people saw me with my Dad, they began to say we looked alike.   This picture, taken at my daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner, was the first time I ever really saw it.   But I had evidence of the family resemblance much earlier.

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Franked

March 19, 2019

cbjme4erwc-42251002478299585773.pngLast week, I was driving down the hill on a Target run, and as I was trying to adjust the GPS unit on the windshield, my wife, Muri, asked if I’d turn down the air conditioning. At 74, doing two things at once is my limit, so I said … in that certain tone of voice … Hold your horses. She gave knowing look and I said, Yes, you’ve been Franked. Frank is, of course, my Dad, and Hold your horses was his favorite response to being told to do something when he was otherwise occupied. For some reason, horses figured prominently in our family’s repertoire of sayings. If you were being a bit uppity to my Mom, she’d offer, Let me hold your high horse while you get off, and if she was tired, she’d say, The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. But this post is about being Franked, so we’ll leave Mom’s cliches for another day. (more…)

Art History

June 3, 2018

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Recently, I posted an photo of me, my parents, Florence and Frank, and my siblings, Glenn and Pat in the living room of the house I grew up in. That room was the center of my universe from the time we moved there in 1952 until I went off to college. When family … grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins … visited, we sat in the living room. Dad would often move the table from our smallish kitchen to the living room to give us more room for Thanksgiving. Christmas trees were decorated and presents opened there. I told my parents that I had proposed to my college sweetheart there. Dad took countless naps while reading the paper in the chair by the door and I learned my love of classical music listening to Mom’s records on the stereo under the picture window. In my college years, Mom and I would sit up watching Johnny Carson and talking on the sofa under “Dad’s mirror” (he never walked by it without a little gavotte). More than once, he’d call from their bedroom at the end of the hall, Would you two keep it down out there?

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Fixes

October 2, 2017

According to the dictionary, getting a fix means To obtain something necessary, especially a dose of an addictive drug or anything else compulsively sought after.   Of course, the phrase is an idiom in the sense that it’s definition can’t be determined from the meaning of the words.  So, I tend to drop the addicted and compulsively and let it just mean doing something I really enjoy.  Back in my running days, after a long day at work, I’d put on my Nikes and go out for a running fix. Yeah, my friends told me I was compulsive about exercise.  OK, as ice cream lovers, my wife and I sometimes head to our favorite shop in Dana point for an ice cream fix.  But believe it or not some geniuses at the New York Times (all the news that’s fit for the bottom of a birdcage) published an article comparing ice cream consumption to drug use.  OK, music.  When I’m down, nothing lifts me like listening to some music I love.  But sure as shit, there are articles about the problems of music addiction.  It seems to be in the nature of our modern world that some idiot is out to find fault with liking anything too much.  (more…)