Friday, November 26, 2010

Ocean View Room

It was moving day for the soon to be married Ann. The Budget rental truck stood ready to go being fully loaded with Ann's worldly possessions the day before. My mission was to drive the truck 500 miles to Carpinteria California and be there by 4:00 pm when movers were scheduled to arrive. Marilyn's and Ann's mission was to get to Carpinteria and not ride with me in a moving van for 10 hours. They flew. I pulled into the apartment parking lot at 4:05. There were no movers. Peter called and they claimed they could be there in another hour or so. In semi professional mover terms, "an hour or so" means "sometime in the future or never". Peter canceled and we unloaded the truck ourselves including the piano.
One thing Marilyn really loves is the beach. For her there is nothing better than sitting on a balcony overlooking the surf with the sound of breakers and a sea breeze. Since we would be in California anyway for the move, she decided to add a mini vacation on top of the moving festivities. Several weeks before, she carefully scouted hotels on the beach near Carpinteria and selected the Crown Plaza in Ventura. She booked an ocean view room.

We arrived late in the evening and received our room key. We pulled back the drapes. Although dark outside, it was apparent that this wasn't an ocean view room. Marilyn wasn't happy. She doesn't like to make waves (even at the beach) so she has me do it. I trudged down to the desk and requested another room. One might be available the next day. Morning light confirmed that we didn't have an "ocean view room" but an "air conditioner and seagull poop view room". This wasn't listed on the hotel reservation options
In fairness to the hotel, if you stood on the bed you could see patches of ocean between the air conditioning units. Maybe this is that fine line between "partial ocean view" and "ocean view".

The next day the hotel made good on our request and moved us to another room. This was without a doubt an ocean view room. Marilyn was happy. I was happy, but my back still hurt. That piano was heavy.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Fun at the Cabin

Forrest Gump said that life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get inside. Going up to the cabin for the first time each summer is a lot like a box of chocolates. You just never know what's inside. I always mentally prepare myself for the possibility that on arriving after a three and a half hour drive, we may have to turn around and come home immediately. What could happen? There could be a hive of killer bees by the front door. Skunks may have taken up residence on the living room couch and they don't take kindly to being disturbed. Squatter Gypsies may have made it their home and are holding late night seances. Yet for 30 years the cabin has always been as we left it the previous fall. This time appeared no different until we noticed that the toilet wasn't holding water. Closer inspection revealed a crack in the bottom. For me, this was no reason to head back home, but Marilyn is kind of picky when it comes to having a toilet even though there is a heavy forest surrounding the cabin. In a matter of minutes I'm off to the local Home Depot to buy a toilet. Thinking I would have to purchase all the parts separately I was pleasantly surprised that you can buy a whole toilet in a single box with all the parts you need included. Back at the cabin Marilyn sat cross legged in the living room while I pulled the old one toilet out and installed the new one in record time (3 hours) It was record time because that's the first time I pulled a toilet out and replaced it so the record stands until I do this again. The new toilet is a low flow toilet which seems to work well but I think I'll still flush twice just to get my money's worth (see my post "the 20$ Flush" Nov 4, 2006). Speaking of flushing twice, one of the first things I saw scratched into a bathroom stall in elementary school were the words "flush twice. It's a long way to the cafeteria". I remember thinking "hey, that's pretty funny". As humorous as it was, the cafeteria food never tasted quite the same again.
It was the July fourth weekend and we thought we might see some fireworks up in the cool pines. I asked the next door neighbor where the fireworks were this year. He said they are going to be tonight even though it was the third. The fourth was on a Sunday with a Monday holiday following. It made no sense to me, but I think people who live at high altitude where the air is thin see things differently than those of us who get adequate oxygen. After a three and a half hour drive and another three hours wrestling a toilet into submission, I took a pass on the fireworks. How good could July third fireworks be anyway.

The next morning I got an early start painting the wood rails out at the road. I remember painting them the last time with my nephew Matt when he was a kid. Matt's son will be driving next year so it must me time to paint again. I thought a little brushing would take off the some of the loose paint. By afternoon I realized all the paint was loose paint. The rails were down to bare wood. Priming and painting followed wrapping up day two of fun at the cabin.
It was good to get home again and back to work where I could really get some rest and relaxation.

I hope the brilliant white rails won't be a beacon for roving Gypsies. We'll find out when we open the cabin next year.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Goodbye Scruffy

She was a Christmas gift for Ann 17 years ago. A kitten loaded with long multicolored fur and one tan foot. No matter how long she groomed herself the fur was never quite right. She had a series of "bad hair" days lasting her entire life. What she lacked in looks, she made up in cat charm. When she was young, she brought us gifts. We never felt comfortable giving her cash or access to credit cards so the best she could do was to bring us the occasional live bird she caught. Since we had cat doors, this usually resulted in our chase and capture of a terrified dove winging its way from room to room. When captured, Marilyn would divert Scruffy's attention while I released the bird outside. We didn't want Scruffy to think we didn't appreciate her efforts. She was a sensitive cat. When hearing the garage door open, Scruffy always made her way to the door. When we walked in, she was always there to greet us. She developed a nightly ritual of accompanying me to get the mail. She loved birthday parties and attended them all hoping for a chair at the table along with some cake frosting and ice cream.

There's no one to greet us at the door now. I get the mail alone. Scruffy passed away last week at the ripe old cat age of 17. We miss her.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Disney Adventure

It's been well over ten years since Marilyn and I have been to Disneyland. Ann and Peter came up with a plan to meet us over there and share a day of magic kingdom adventure. Somehow, through the family network, twelve family members and fiances ended up sharing it with us. We made a sizable crowd big enough to be assigned our own Small World boat. Sing along as you view the pictures. You know the tune (I know it's etched in my brain).

Disney - It's a Small World .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

It's a world of laughter,
A world of tears.
It's a world of hopes,
And a world of fears.
There's so much that we share,
That it's time we're aware,
It's a small world after all.

It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small, small world.
There is just one moon,
And one golden sun.
And a smile means,
Friendship to every one.
Though the mountains divide,
And the oceans are wide,
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small, small world.

Gimpy Shoots

After unwrapping Christmas gifts and clearing the clutter, it's time to play with the toys. One gift that Steve gave Carol was an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle! Steve was inspired by the movie "A Christmas Story". In the movie, A young boy named Ralphie desperately wants a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas, but everybody says he'll put an eye out with it. In the end, he gets the rifle and so did Carol. Her hunting forays will be limited to the back porch for a while since she slipped and fell on ice in the school parking lot breaking her leg in two places. With a chair for her and one for her leg, she put the famed rifle to the test.

Pop cans from the trash made convenient targets as the junior Annie Oakley took aim.
In the end, Carol didn't shoot her toes and nobody's eye was put out . . . at least not in our yard.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cracker Town

The family gathered at Linda and Jim's for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We had a gingerbread house decorating contest in the past and thought it would be fun to do it again. As time drew near, our visions of highly decorated yule tide gingerbread houses crumbled when we realized that we weren't going to have the key ingredient - gingerbread. I'm not going to lay blame on anyone (Linda) for this oversight, it just happened. Being resourceful people, we resorted to the next best thing - Graham crackers. After all, it's been said that they are the plywood of the confectionery housing industry. With frosting, candies, cookies, and cake decorating accessories, we teamed up and the contest was on. In a short while, where a desolate plain once existed, Cracker Town was born.

The first structure at the edge of town was a shack.
A high rise condo with a fountain in front provided homes for those choosing not to live in shacks.
An open air lean to provided an outdoor living experience. Hope it doesn't rain.
What would you call a town without sanitary facilities, Smellyville? The town outhouse.
No town is complete without air transport facilities. The Cracker Town airport.
At the center of town stood the tallest structure, the Animal Tower of Power. No one was sure what it was. Whether a radio tower or a temple of worship of an ancient animal cult, the towns people felt secure in the knowledge that in a lighting storm, the Animal Tower of Power would be the first building to go.
Let's just call this a giant Easter egg factory.
At the other edge of town, trailer parks sprouted as winter visitors piled into town to enjoy the mild winter climate. Here's one of their trailers decked out in Christmas lights.
In the end, Steve and Carol were unanimously declared the winners with "Christmas decorated trailer". They were made honorary mayor and town manager of Cracker Town. Their first mission is to clean up the construction site. Let's hope there are still federal stimulus funds available.

Ann and Peter Engaged

In a romantic setting at the Scottsdale Gainey Ranch, Peter popped the question.
Wedding in September.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving found the usual suspects showing up at our doorstep this year to celebrate the holiday. Marilyn and I have ironed out our cooking strategy with the addition of a turkey roaster although much of the preparation still involves the outside BBQ grill.
Steve and Carol driving directly in from the frosty north brought Piggy, their faithful canine to the party. Piggy enjoyed romping in the large backyard but carefully eyed the large orange fish huddled in the pond before a refreshing drink. Convinced they weren't South American orange dog tongue biting fish, she began lapping up their home.
One topic around the table each year is the Christmas wish list. Each person states those things they most desire for Christmas. Groggy from the large turkey feast, most everyone else forgets what was said within the hour. This year Linda proposed a new method for Christmas gift giving. We would draw names and have only one family member to shop for. When we all get together on Christmas Eve, everybody would get one gift. It seemed simple enough.
Carol's family had used this method for years. The only draw back she and Steve observed was that December seemed to be "break up" month. If one of the family's significant others broke up with them and that person had selected your name, well, Cupid just stomped on your Christmas gift. Believing that all our family relationships durable enough to go another month, we drew names.

Jay drove here from California in his sporting new Chrysler Crossfire. He gave us rides around the neighborhood. Of course the question of the DeLorean popped up.
Jay assured us that he still has the DeLorean which was spirited out of Jim and Linda's back yard recently to a secret bunker in Southern California where Jay's sporadic restoration efforts will some day restore its stainless steel glory. Maybe next Thanksgiving it will be DeLorean rides for all.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I'm having the beef

The wedding reception cocktail hour was winding down and guests were seating themselves for the reception dinner. Marilyn and I finally zeroed in on our table which had only our spots vacant. Name cards perched on small decorative candle holders indicated who we were and by color our choice of beef or chicken. I tossed my cocktail napkin down and we seated ourselves. Immediately, guests around the table alerted me to the fact that my napkin had burst into flames. It had gone too far to pat it out by hand so I stuffed it in my water glass. With the napkin extinguished, I was able to focus on the next issue. My name card was also aflame and erasing my identity which may not have been a bad thing at this point. Grabbing an edge, I yanked it from the holder and dropped it in my water glass .
With all flames extinguished, I settled in to meeting the guests at our table who by now were removing their name cards from the candle holders and placing them a safe distance away. Aside from the ashes marking my place at the table and the faint smell of burnt paper in the air, dinner proceeded as normal.
As the server came by assessing each guest's food selection, I pointed to the red sliver of of my name card protruding from my water glass and said "I'm having the beef".