Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Patrick

Today--March 31st is Patrick's birthday--I would not mention it except to note that he is 25 today--a number which I consider fairly significant.

Patrick is in the early stages of a really significant year--which will include getting married and has already seen him move along from his job of many years at Best Buy to a position more suited for his varied talents.
And when the family assembles to celebrate birthdays--as we always do--it is a special time.
And so--I wish Patrick all the best on completing his first quarter century and blessings upon his future, wherever he is led.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Healthcare Reform - One More Time

I had the opportunity to dine with friends last week. And as we were traveling to dinner, it became clear that we are on opposite sides of the current health care reform issue.

Fortunately, not a problem. They were gentle with me.

What a great country, and what great friends. We can disagree about a very important issue and still be friends.

And I obtained some clarity on some of the real health care issues facing many people and why the current healthcare reform bill--while imperfect, is necessary.

It is a first step to guaranteeing all Americans some form of healthcare access. And that is definitely a good thing. I live in a somewhat insular world when it comes to some issues and I got so focused on what is wrong with this legislation that I overlooked the obvious intended benefit.

I was so in tune with larger constitutional and states rights issues, that I missed the idea that the bill will actually be helping people who need help. What a concept.

I was able to watch some of "Meet the Press" on Sunday and witnessed a lively debate between Senators Graham and Schumer.

Senator Schumer pointed out:

"The positives are going to start weighing in. Senior citizens will get much better opportunities to buy prescription drugs, which we know they care about. Small businesses will get tax breaks so they'll be either able to cover their employees--many small business people want to but can't afford it--or keep the coverage if they have it already. People will be less likely to be--have their insurance policies canceled when they get sick. That's a big thing to people."

And I hope so--I am still worried about the cost, the erosion of personal freedom, the increase of taxes necessary to maintain this bottom heavy giant, and the federal mandates directed at the states without funding to support them--which will be another tax bite.

Senator Graham later spoke to some of my fears during the show:

"You spend Medicare money twice. You take $570 billion out of Medicare to pay for the healthcare bill, then you're using that same $570 to say it lowers the growth of Medicare over time. It's a giant Ponzi scheme. You create a new entitlement called the Class Act where you sell long-term health insurance to the public. You take the premiums and you don't keep them in the system, you pay for this healthcare bill. Where does the money come from when they need the health care? So it's a house of cards. It is a Ponzi scheme of the first order. It's going to blow up the deficit. It's going to affect every business, every family in this country."

During the Reagan administration they called it "Voodoo" economics.

So, let's roll out the increased access and the guaranteed coverage and the good aspects and trim the fat a bit and maybe we have something workable here for the millions of people in this country who do not have the access to healthcare that everyone should have.

Thanks guys--for getting me to look at this again and see the good start which with a bit of tweaking and a tad of reform can do something really good for many many people.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Musings - March 29, 2010

1. Palm Sunday--and Holy Week begins. A time for reflection and rededication.

2. Patrick enjoyed his birthday present--a Penguins 3rd Jersey--and then he went out to get shoes to match!

3. The grass is getting so green--I'm sure that I am going to have to mow it soon. Before the end of March? Nope. But early in April. I can't wait for the smell of fresh cut lawn to fill my nostrils.

4. Next week--Napa. I can hardly wait in fact I am already totally distracted by the though of getting away for a week.

5. Ever notice there is so much more to do when preparing for a trip than really needs to be done? Think about it--we always over pack and over plan and then wind up dragging too much stuff around.

6. My sojourn to the landfill this weekend was much more pleasant--only a 30 minute wait with all of my Howard county neighbors. They opened up another section for lawn debris to more than double capacity. Way to go Howard County!

7. Now that the pile of lawn debris form last year is finally gone--I wonder what the next project will be. I fear the apple tree is not going to make it too far into April. Chris has her eye on a Redbud tree to replace it. The apple tree doesn't produce apples and its bloom production is way off--so it is time for it to become firewood!

8. Just for the record--no one is touching my plum trees! I just wish the plums would ripen after I get back from Florida in early August, because the way it is now--the squirrels get them all before I do!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturdays are great

What a productive day I had Saturday.

Unfortunately, I did have to spend it with only my trusty dog--but she made the day by showing me how much of a puppy she is when I took her for as walk in downtown Annapolis while I was picking up some wine we had ordered. She was paralyzed by all of the activity--although she did enjoy looking at the ducks out in the marina. It reminded me how much of a puppy she still is. Secretly, I'm worried she has some trust issues. But it was good to have her with me in the big city. And she enjoyed riding in Cat--shotgun. Shhh, don't tell Chris she wasn't in the back seat.

But along with the obligatory springtime trip to the landfill to rid the yard of more limbs and debris, a quick shopping trip to the store for the essentials of life: birthday cake fixings for Patrick's Sunday party; and doing the wash--it was just a really awesome day. A bit cold--but still a nice day.

BTW--although Patrick's birthday is not until Wednesday, celebrating it on Palm Sunday is fully appropriate since he was actually born on a Palm Sunday morning.

But what really made the day awesome was the realization that the weeping cherry tree is about to burst forth in color.

Question. Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of cherry buds and keep them in focus when the wind is blowing? Answer. Very hard and in a stiff breeze almost impossible! Operative word is--almost.

We figure our springtime flowers will be fully in bloom while we are away in Napa next week.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Riding the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

Well--Thursday evening, after a hard day of work and a morning racquetball match, we did it.

We drove our bicycles over to the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail for our first bike ride of the year.

I do admit that my legs were screaming at me after a few miles because I had played a tough racquetball match in the morning--but it felt good to out on the trail in a short sleeve shirt in the 70 degree afternoon.

It was Chris' idea, and it turned out to be a good one. We enjoyed the warm afternoon from atop our bicycles--which, by the way we did not use at all last year because we were training Makayla. So we did not want this year to get away from us.

The signs of Spring were evident along the trail--daffodils especially were in bloom. But people were out everywhere--doing the same thing--enjoying an unseasonably warm Springtime afternoon.

But now the real problem--what to do with the bikes when we are not riding them? I have had them in the pool house for the winter to free up space in the garage for my new car. But if we are going to use the bikes at all, they are going to need to be accessible--I definitely need a larger garage.

But since that isn't going to happen anytime soon--I need an alternate solution because I already am attempting to get 15 pounds of potatoes into a 10 pound bag with the car in the garage.

Oh well that is one of those problems I'm not going to solve today--I think I'll just enjoy the memory of the ride and try to forget about tripping over the bikes when I take the garbage or recycling out.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mulch in the Afternoon

I walked out of work the other day and smelled the newly installed mulch around the plants and trees lining the parking lot.

The smell just hit me with--It's Springtime!

Gardening, and mulch and the rush to get gardens all done and together.

The tulips and daffodils and crocus popping up through the newly laid mulch which looks so clean, unlike the mulch which had remained in the gardens from last year.

It is amazing how spiffy new mulch makes a garden look--and with its unmistakable smell--it just calls to me.

And the flowers, especially the yellow daffodils, look so spectacular against the new mulch, too.

And now the rain showers are back--to further incite the Springtime into action--the warm rain, and it is relatively warm with the temperature in the 50's. It is hard to believe we are facing the threat of frost this weekend and we are going to have to move the plants we wintered back inside for a couple of days.

But that's OK--Spring is truly here. The grass is green and our plum trees are green with leaves and soon will burst forth in bright white blooms.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peepers in the Springtime

One of my readers from Upstate NY wrote to me about one of her favorite first signs of spring:

"Just got back from walking the dogs (no poopy equipment required) through the wet and muddy (but finally snow free) fields to the pond in the woods and I heard the peepers!"

What is a peeper, you may ask? Well, check out the link and you will find them more correctly called Spring Peepers and they are little frogs which become a deafening chorus during the springtime.

And I too, listen for the peepers. We were out walking Makayla the other evening and stopped to listen to the chorus coming form the wetlands near our house. And after a long, cold, silent winter their joyous springtime chorus is a thrill to hear.

We here in Maryland have been blessed with their chorus now for almost two weeks.

As we were walking, we noticed how the houses in some places muffled their song--but you could still hear it coming from the wetland, if only you took the time to pause, and listen for it under the noise of the traffic on I-95.

It is so much fun to watch and hear the earth coming to life again after winter. To see the signs of rebirth everywhere--even in places one might not expect.

It just takes a bit of time--stop and look for the signs and listen for the sounds and then, allow yourself to be amazed.

It will make you smile, I'm sure of it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Signs of Springtime in the Neighborhood

While walking Makayla last evening, after an exhausting racquetball match, I noticed a redbud tree in a neighbor's yard in full, magnificent bloom.

Sitting on a small hill, the redbud tree was the centerpiece of the front yard. It sat alone--in full bloom well ahead of its brethren in other yards, drawing attention to itself as if to say, "it is springtime, why aren't you in bloom?"

I wish I had me camera with me, but I do not routinely take it along while walking Makayla--having another thing in my hands just makes the clean-up process too difficult. But, it was a beauty and it underscored to me that spring is here.

And as the walk continued I began to notice the other, more subtle signs of spring. The crocus blooms the daffodil buds, and the occasional tulip leaves peaking up over the gardens. There were even hyacinths struggling up through the mulch in my garden.

It is amazing how in the span of two weeks we have gone from winter to spring. It is up to us to see the signs in order to appreciate and not overlook them in the hectic pace of life. They are there, if only we would "stop to smell the roses" so to speak.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care for Whom? A Rant so Look Out!

Well they have done it--and many of them are happy. Our elected representatives.

The United States has continued down the slippery slope to becoming a state where individual initiative is discouraged and people are encouraged to depend upon the state for their well being and sustinence.

It is really demoralizing.

Here is what one of my readers wrote yesterday after my Monday Musing:

"I agree with your view on the health care bill. How come those of us who have worked hard and are some what successful are now asking ourselves why? Furthermore what do I say to my children and grandchildren? We have inspired our children to become the best they can and want to succeed. However, when I see what is happening should I be doing this? And why, does our administration continue to put other items in their bills to be passed? For instance in this health care bill, there was a measure involving student aid programs! Why? This should be a totally different bill! Correct? How can you vote for one and dismiss the other? Why is it that again, by passing this bill we who are somewhat successful, again, will be losing money! Government control of student aid. Sure it helps the Pell Grant system, but what about those people who have to turn to private loans (government back) like the Parent Plus Loan, to pay for our children to get an education, because we do not qualify for anything else!!!! Guess I need to save more - So what I am hearing is that the government wants total control, and you are not allow to make more then average, because if you do you will be punished!
I will still inspired my children and grandchildren to be the best they can be - maybe there is more to it then just making a successful living? "

Our society is rewarding those who do not desire to achieve. It is failing to recognize that it takes hard work to be successful and that the reward for hard work and risk taking is becoming more taxes and more burden--a disproportionately more burden.

I admit that I hate it every tax season when I discover that I am unable to deduct student loan interest and tuition.

Why are deductions based upon income. Taxes already increase for higher incomes--and removing deductions is an insidious way to further increase the overall tax bite when compared to other Americans. While hiding it.

And now--much like the centrist movement in the schools which seeks to cause kids not to want to achieve because they are different, the incentives to take risk and to succeed are being removed by a government, that while it is supposed to be "We the people," is rapidly becoming "We the disadvantaged."

and so that is my rant for today!

My health care is not going to improve, but my tax burden for paying for everyone else will definitely increase.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Musings - March 22, 2010

1. It is finally officially Spring and the weather has been cooperating with temperatures above normal calling us outdoors to work and play. What a change from just a couple of months ago. The outlook for the week is rainy and cool--but only one day with low temperatures below 40.

2. As I write this morning. I realize that I now live in a country with universal health care due to the Congress ramming it through last night. Why don't I feel any better about it and worry that the quality of the care I receive will only decline?

3. Yesterday was a celebration for and dedication of Lucas. We all met a church for the dedication and then back to the house for an incredibly good pasta meal.

4. "One more ride on the tractor!" Spoken in unison by two grandsons yesterday--at least 10 times. How soon the speed of the tractor will seem too slow for them both.

5. In reviewing some of the provisions of the new health care bill, I see again that our society is perpetuating something that I have seen in our schools--a negative view of those who are successful. Every time there is new legislation that needs funding there seems to be an increased tax burden for the wealthy--which is loosely defined as families making more than $250,000 per year. Where is the incentive to do your best and succeed? Where did the idea of getting something for nothing come from? The desire to obtain votes? Who is voting for this?

6. The grass in the yard is green and growing. I am on schedule to mow for the first time before the end of the month!

7. Another week is upon me--with its challenges and excitement.

8. Syracuse and Cornell both in the NCAA Men's Basketball Sweet Sixteen. Now there is a truly great accomplishment for Central New York. What color do you get when the orange mix it up with the big red? Could happen!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Springtime Celebration

So there we were last evening.

Enjoying the first evening of Spring by having dinner on the pool deck under the darkening evening sky. Steaks that were a bit over cooked and a nice bottle of wine were on the table as we reflected on the day.

We had the propane heated going to help us to enjoy the evening and not be too cold. Watching the dog and the cat wander around the pool area. We also had music blaring on the radio kind of as a foretaste of the celebrations to come this summer.

Talking about the day and the hard work we did to get the house ready for the coming season. And to make everything look good. Removing the dead branches and plants and replacing them with new life. Pruning our lives too of the dead pieces left over from the winter.

The grass is already green and our lawn service has put down the first treatment of the year to make it green so I have to mow it more.

It was nice to look into the darkening sky and to see the stars through the trees which soon will be clothed in green leaves. And to imagine forward into the summer and splashing on the pool.

What a great ending to the first day of a new season!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Can You Tell it is Spring?

We had a growing pile of limbs and tree related refuse sitting off the yard in the woods. We were going to rent a chipper last year to get rid of it. But with the rain and the summer we never quite got to it.

Well in penance for that travesty I have been sitting in a huge line of vehicles for the last 30 minutes waiting to access the landfill to drop the stuff off. The first of probably two runs that will be required. My truck is full to overloaded.

My trusty dog is at my side and she keeps looking at me wondering why we are not going anywhere.

It appears everyone in Howard County has the same idea. And so we are all idling here and getting frustrated about not getting anything done.

The vehicles are all loaded full with broken trees and limbs which will be recycled into mulch.

But right now we are trapped in a line more suited for leaving a parking lot after a sporting event.

Without the thrill of victory. Just the waiting for my turn.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Cars and Relationships

You don't really think about them--cars, that is, until they break.

For instance, we just go out, get in, turn the key and expect them to start and take us safely where we want to go.

But what happens when the second most expensive purchase we make decides not to work?


We went through the accident/broken car situation with Patrick and Tina a few months back and now it is our turn--the Lexus navigation system decided to break. And the Lexus dealer had it for three days. Lexus is great in that we get a loaner. But still--waiting to spend large sums of money at the car dealer! How much fun is that!

But is really makes you appreciate when vehicles work and redouble efforts to do preventive maintenance.

Kinda like relationships. Sometimes you don't really think about them until they get broken and need repair.

It would be a lot better if we took time to care for and do preventive maintenance on our relationships--just like we do for our cars.

Hmm. An interesting thought. Maybe go out to dinner or a show or a ballgame, just because! Reconnect, much like an oil change for relationships.

I'll have to give it a try.

Friday, March 19, 2010

He Got It Right!

This week I heard something in church that one doesn't often hear being uttered from the minister's mouth.

"He got it right!" And I was in shock. Really. Because we, humans, never get it right. It is just the way we are.

Of course, the one who got it right was Job--my old friend and it was no one other than God who made the statement that Job got it right! Wow--

Check this out:

After the Lord had spoken these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has. (Job 42:7 - NET Bible)

Job's friends, who were trying to give him advice had it all wrong--and God told them so in no uncertain terms.

The lesson here?

When your friends start preaching to you about what they think God would want you to do/believe. Don't listen. Be true and honest with yourself and God. That's what he wants. It is OK to be bewildered, frustrated, mad, grief striken--just be honest in your heart!

Sometimes bad things happen for no reason at all!

It is how we respond that is important to our relationship with God.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

For the Love of My Dog--Keeping Life in Perspective

I had a really humorous thought this morning as I was walking Makayla in the darkness which is now upon me as a result of Daylight Savings Time.

There I was--as my beloved keeshond Makayla was happily running up the drive to my neighbors yard to do her morning bowel movement (a/k/a poop).

I just know she waits all morning for this moment--as I eat and get ready for work. She knows that the last thing I do is take her out for this quick walk--and she is always quick. I usually pick-up my newspaper at the same time--but the paper person has been very unreliable lately--so no paper at the end of the drive.

Makalya runs into the neighbors lawn and squats--as she does every morning--only it was really dark. I was looking intently at the spot on the ground as I opened the doggie poop bag in preparation to clean the spot. As she moved away I realized that the only way I was going to be able to find the poop was by its warmth. Yuck!

And so I did--my hand went down pretty close to the spot, but nonetheless, I was reduced to finding and removing her poop not by sight or smell--but by the feel of the warmth.

We used to have a small flashlight on the end of the leash--but it broke some time ago. And with all of the snow--it was relatively easy to find the dark poop on the white snow--so the flashlight wasn't replaced. And even after the snow melted, the dawn was close enough at 6:15am that the light in the sky was enough to identify the spot of the foul.

But not now! And especially when she goes in a location where the spotlight on the neighbor's house does not reach.

I am reduced to finding and retrieving my dog's poop by feel.

And I laughed at the humor of it all. Here I am humbled by cleaning up Makayla's poop just before climbing into my car and motoring away, dressed in my sport coat and power tie ready to for work.

Just keeping it all in perspective!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Government Adrift

I hate to do it--but I have an axe to grind this morning. With our elected representatives.

And the first is with Congress---yes our U.S. Congress which is so embattled with trying to salvage an ill-advised health care situation that the business of running the country is failing.

The second is with the Maryland legislature which has been bought off by the liquor lobby and is poised not to act on wine shipping bills which are supported by the people of the State of Maryland and over half the delegates and senators in the state.

Bottom line: Our governments are out of touch with the electorate.

Most of the the people I know do not want "big" government health care and frankly are scared by it. What program has the government ever run well?

And most of the people in Maryland want to be able to ship wine to their houses off the Internet and to become members of wine clubs. We can ship guns, but we can't ship wine? Go figure. And it is the liquor lobby that is standing in the way promoting Abolitionist Era laws that are out of touch with reality.

For Congress--the representatives and senators are walking a very fine line of legality as compared with the Constitution of the United States. A bill may actually be enacted which has not been ratified by both houses of Congress. All through slight of hand! The Director of the Stanford Law School's Constitutional Law Center quoted in this morning's Washington post said "I feel pretty confident it is unconstitutional. What a court would do about it is a murkier problem."

These are exciting times. And frustrating times. At one level of government, they are not acting on legislation that the people want and at the other, they are enacting legislation that few people want!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Madness

Yes--it is that time of year.

Fill out the brackets and take on the challenge of calling as many of the 63 (64 if you count the play-in) games in the NCAA tournament as possible and of course--select the next NCAA Men's Basketball National Champion!

Go Cornell! Well I do have them losing in the second round, but I believe they will pull off the magical 5-12 first round upset over Temple.

Even more importantly are Syracuse and Maryland--both back in good form for the tournament with Syracuse as a number 1 seed and Maryland a number 4. Sadly, I have Maryland losing to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen--but hey, Kansas is a number 1 seed (although I almost picked Maryland in an upset).

March is such a great month for sports. The madness, the NHL is winding down and getting ready for the playoffs, and spring baseball training just oozes springtime and a fresh start for the Orioles.

So who are my final four? Georgetown, West Virginia, Syracuse and Duke. And I have Syracuse defeating Duke 89-86 to win the national championship! Yeah--I know, I'm dreaming. The professional bracket analyzer says that I have a 10.7 percent chance of being correct in predicting that Syracuse will be the next national champion--but hey, so what. It is all in good fun.

And that, of course, is why they call it March Madness!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Musings - March 15, 2010

1. It is the Ides of March--Et tu, Brute?

2. The tax man cometh--a mere 31 days from today. It is our annual time to pay for our government. Some people look forward to getting a refund--what an interesting way to make people believe that taxes are painless, withhold too much from their pay and then give it back (without interest) to make them believe they are getting something for nothing!

3. We have fallen back into the days of darkness--thank you DST! No wonder I feel terrible and sleep deprived this morning.

4. I did it last week--I had a small respite from bad weather and was able to project forward into the summertime fun. It is amazing how flexible we are with our minds to be able to project into the future and see it as we want to see it--the hard part is then to make the future a reality. That is the part most people miss.

5. Yesterday I had the pleasure of following a two-year old through the Jump Zone in Columbia at a birthday party. Wow--did he have fun. He had so much fun I was exhausted when he was done! All-in-all it was a great way to spend the afternoon and have some great grandpa time with two of my grandsons.

6. Bad gloomy weather really gets me down. Sunshine, on the other hand, lifts my spirits.

7. Friday night, we went to see Tom Rush a folk singer who was playing in Annapolis. It was a great evening with friends and good music and reminded me that I enjoy getting out every so often to enjoy the arts and especially some good music.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Downpour Drowns Outdoors Initiative

What does one do on another too wet Saturday?

It seems there is more than enough to keep busy with and much of it involves being places outside the home even though at times the rain was falling so hard that driving was a bit dicey.

Let's begin with the second most exciting part of the day--I saw my first earthworm of the season. Now I know many people look for the robins, but we have been besieged with a whole flock of robins all winter--so seeing an earthworm making its way across the driveway yesterday was truly an event to note.

OK, so I'm a bit boring because I get excited about earthworms.

Of course with the rain, there was no way to continue the winter yard clean up and I tried not to even think about it by staying away from The Hope Depot and Lowe's.

But there was a trip to the mall--to exchange some clothes and wander around. I soothed my need to buy something by buying a new pen. Since it was early, not too many people had decided to venture out--so the mall was relatively pleasant. The mistake though was going from the mall to Costgo at about noon. It should have been declared a federal disaster area. I'm amazed how poorly people drive in the rain--drive first and worry about getting wet second! Seems they forget that they are dry in the car. And loading groceries in the rain should be a new Olympic sport.

And then it happened! The climate control system in the Lexus ceased functioning! In the rain and in the parking lot. Ugh! Fortunately the vehicle was and is driveable.

I spent much of the rest of the afternoon in the rain and then in the garage looking for a blown fuse or something I could repair to avoid a trip to the Lexus dealer--to no avail. It's going to have to go. And since Lexus is just a glorified Toyota--who knows what the damage is ultimately going to be. $$$

And as the rain continued to make me more depressed--I decided to work on the taxes and get them closer to being ready for submission.

Thankfully we were going to some friends house for wine and food to overcome the depression that the taxes started to send me into! Ugh. I don't look at the refund/pay line--but rather the overall tax bite. Ouch! I'd rather be swimming with sharks. I'd have a better chance to come out alive.

But the evening with friends, good food and wine was the best part of the day and successfully erased the memories of the rain and gloom. I enjoy talking sports--especially Orioles baseball with my friends and trying to determine if we agree with Baseball America's assessment that the O's will win 79 games this year. I'm still believing for 82!

So this morning the rain has stopped--and we are beginning the process of drying out. Now we can do it all over again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Call it a Heatwave

Since Monday--(or early Tuesday morning) the temperatures here in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay have been moderate and believe it or not--above freezing!!!

Most of the snow is gone--although some huge piles remain if you know where to look.

It is clear that Springtime had descended upon us and that although we expect at least one more big wintery assault, the time for this to actually occur is reduced day by day.

We have seen temperatures in the 60's which have us rejoicing and longing for 70's. I even cooked out on the grill the other evening--without a coat on. I actually cook out all winter, but it was nice to sip my one allotted evening glass of wine and look into the trees and deepening night sky without feeling like I was going to develop hypothermia.

And I can smile--because I apparently have survived another cycle.

Today though--rain and gloom. But good weather is out there, somewhere.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Things People Say That Make You Wonder

Every so often a phrase comes out wrong but is so true.

For instance consider this:

"I have created a problem where there was none. My job is done here." Now consider if this was a news report about another session in Congress regarding health care, or the Maryland legislature about anything. How true it would be.

I have heard other such phrases over time, but cannot remember them. But they usually rank up there with those timeless ones like:

Creating a mountain out of a molehill --one of my personal favorites and it seems to happen more and more.

Or when I was on a traveling inspection and compliance team while I was in the Air Force--the two great phrases:

We would say: We're here to help and they would respond: We're happy to see you!

Or back in the days of corporal punishment when a father would say to his disobedient son just before the belt or cat-o-nine tails hit his bottom: This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you! Really? Then what's the use, I always wondered. Oh, maybe I wasn't supposed to admit being THAT son!

Oh well, I know there are a lot more of these kind of phrases, but----

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Down and Hair not-so on Fire

Tuesday was an awesome afternoon here. Everyone was talking at work about how great the weather was--outside.

Me--I had a late meeting that didn't end until about 4:30, so I couldn't even give into my developing case of Spring Fever and blow the popcorn stand to go outside and enjoy the weather.

But--as I hit the parking lot and noticed the great weather I did something that I have wished that I could do for years but never had the capability to do--I put the top down on Cat and decided to drive home and enjoy the sunshine and the pre-Spring day. Yes, the picture is from when I brought the car home and all of the snow is gone now--but you get the idea.

Wow--all of the snow--except for one pile along the fence is gone--we are making progress.

It was awesome. I turned the heat up to high, and left the windows up to keep the wind off me and enjoyed a great ride home in the afternoon 62 degree or so sunlight.

So how badly do I want it to be warmer? Pretty badly! It was a pretty sedate ride home--but I was already thinking of July and driving to Florida and stopping alongside I-95 to put the top up for the oncoming rainstorm in the sultry 95 degree heat and 95 percent humidity of the Dog Days of summer. I can smell it even as I write it--bring it on!!!!

Hey--the snow is gone, mostly and that is a start.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sunlight in my Eyes

I had to put my sun glasses on for the ride into work yesterday.

It was awesome. Forty-some degrees, clear blue sky and sun! Yeah. It is rare when I get to drive to work in daylight and enjoy seeing the world as it comes to life.

I have always enjoyed the dawn--and watching the world shake off the slumber from the night and come to life in the light of the sun.

We have had a lot of dark and rainy/snowy days lately and according to the weather forecasters there are more on the way. So I really appreciate the opportunity to drive to work with the sun in my eyes and a blue sky above me.

It is too bad that it all goes away next week as we shift into daylight savings time. I will return to driving to work in the dark. I'm not sure having more daylight in the evening is a good trade off. I can enjoy the added sunlight in the morning just as much as in the evening.

Perhaps we should encourage people to get up earlier rather than to stay up later! The amount of usable sunlight will be the same per day regardless of DST--of course the actual amount of sunlight varies from day-to-day anyway and actually peaks in late June at the summer solstice.

Oh well--the government knows best, right?

Walk outside and turn your face to the sun and feel the warm rays on your face. It will make you feel better all over.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

As the Weeks Roll By

The pace of life seemingly has quickened. Both at work and at home. It seems that the days already are growing too short to accommodate all of the actions and tasks that need to be done. And summer isn't even here yet.


When last we left the bright sunny day--the grasses had been cut in anticipation of the new growth of springtime and the yard was not yet green to its full up color after having been in slumber under the snow for the past two months.

But it is there--I am sure of it. And when it comes along--we will be ready. I usually do my first lawn mowing during March and I am sure that this month will be no different from those past--just the cutting may be a bit delayed.

I smile a bit when I look at the outdoor propane heater (in the picture). Its top is tilted as a result of the weight of the snow. More repair work.

But yesterday, I almost put to top down on Cat for the drive home from work. The temperature was showing 61 degrees on the thermometer, what was I waiting for? 70?

Springtime is a celebration--of life and of rebirth. It is also the time we clean up the mess left behind by the winter and correspondingly the messes in our lives that we made during the dark season. We can be reborn with the new season and revitalize our activity. I'm all for that.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Musings - March 8, 2010

1. Springtime was in the air this weekend and we began the long process of recovering the yards and gardens from the storms--it was very satisfying.

2. Jax the miracle baby turned 2 this weekend! And a huge party yesterday was thrown in his honor. I guess we have all become advocates for testing for TAPVR in the hospitals.

3. On the way to the party yesterday, we stopped at the local pet store to buy a party dress for Nicole's now dog, Florence. How funny was that. Sopping wet she may weigh three pounds. But, she is cute.

4. Makayla got her first ride in the new Cat. She did pretty good in the back seat. Makayla likes to ride in front on top of the driver--so that was a bit if an adjustment for her.

5. It really amazes me how the weather can go from really cold to nice in a short time.

6. There is still snow on the ground--but the size of the piles is decreasing with increasing rapidity.

7. I am still amazed that the tulips and daffodils are pushing up under the snow. I wonder how they know spring is coming?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Signs of Spring

Well--Saturday was one of those days we wait all winter for--we saw that Springtime is coming. We saw the first signs of Springtime flowers in the yard right next to the piles of snow.

We made three trips to the dump to get rid of trees that were damaged by the storms. Then we got the grasses around the pool cut back for springtime as well.

Actual yard work--even though there is still snow on the ground.

It was awesome even though a bit cold.

We lost three trees as a result of the heavy snow and high winds--so starting up the chain saw was exciting. It worked--but I had a real problem getting the chain tension right probably because of the cold. The saw made quick work of the trees and it took three trips to take them to the dump--actually the recycling part of the dump to rid ourselves of them.

But the highlight of the day was finding that underneath the mounds of snow--Springtime was alive and well.

We did spread some of the snow around to help it melt faster--but there is still a six foot high pile near the middle of the driveway.

All in all--we'll call this the first day of Spring! Just because we can.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring, Baseball, and Warmer Temperatures

I have already watched two Spring Training baseball games and listened to a third on the radio. Hard to believe--and only one of them was an Orioles game. I'm hopeless. I'm just happy that baseball is back.

And this weekend--we are going to see some actual Spring-like temperatures. It is so hard to believe but we are rapidly leaving winter behind.

Daylight Savings Time even begins in a week--can you believe it? Yes at 2AM on March 14th! Bet it's creeping up on you and you didn't even realize it.

There is still snow in my yard.

But I did get my new hedge trimmer? So I'm ready for Spring yard work!

And day 2 with Lucas went fine--he is the cutest kid out there.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Grandfather - Other Duties as Assigned

I took yesterday off from work to spend the day with Lucas. Yes, I was the babysitter.

It was a very different day from most that I enjoy. It started off as a normal Thursday on the racquetball court at 0530 playing three very uninspiring games and being totally dominated by the guy I was playing.

Then a quick stop at home for breakfast and off to spend the day with the youngest grandson.

I have to admit--I have not spent much alone time with Lucas as he is usually surrounded by a myriad of doting people. I had held him a couple of times--but surrendered him up when others around me had that "I need to hold the baby" look in their eyes. So I was looking forward to some one-on-one time with Lucas.

He did not disappoint. He is a real snuggle down and sleep kind of guy--which I like. The day revolved around a cycle consisting of diaper change, feed, burp, check out the world for a bit and then sleep; which we repeated three times.

I admit, I do enjoy napping with a baby cradled in my arm or on my chest on the sofa. I think that's why as we get older we like lap dogs--to try to recreate the warmth and memory of holding a peacefully sleeping child. So for me it was a pretty quiet restful day.

I did discover something important though--there is nothing of value on daytime TV. I would up watching old news on the NHL channel and ESPN Sportscenter most of the day until the baseball Spring training games began at 1PM. But the only game on was the Mets and Cardinals. But--it was baseball and the game ended with a football score of 17-11 Mets. I did get to see some plays happen that I remember coaching my Little League teams how to avoid many years ago. I especialyl liked the two-out pop-up that fell between the first baseman and catcher that wound up as a two-run single instead of an inning ending out.

I'm going back later today for day two on the Lucas front and I have to say I'm looking forward to it. Especially since I know more about what I'm going to be facing. And of course--the afternoon nap with Lucas will be the highlight!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Change of Pace--Think SPRING!

So I've been so totally preoccupied with the incredibly long and severe winter we have been having this year, that I have been forgetting to project forward to happier and sunnier times.

Like this weekend.

Amazingly, the weather for Saturday is projected to be in the 50's and sunny and clear! I may even take 'Cat" out for a spin. I think I've decided to name the new car, "Cat" and that way I have a Kitty and a Cat.

But as for the weekend--and the present. We are not far away from actually beginning the Springtime chores. I think this weekend we are going to try to clean up some of the winter storm debris--including downed trees and branches. I mean, 50 degrees is a veritable heat wave considering where we've been hovering in terms of temperatures.

I can almost smell the flowers blooming in my mind. And then it's back onto the antihistamines to keep breathing!

But the promise of a nice weekend is just so encouraging. I am actually looking forward to, rather than resigning myself to, the weekend. It is too bad the yard will still be so wet from the snow melt. But--we'll make a little mud and still get stuff done. I think I need a new tool--like a cordless hedge trimmer! And I need cordless because last year Chris tried to electrocute me as she tried to cut the electric cord with the trimmer and I was holding the electric cord--it was pretty scary!

Yeah--I'll buy a new tool--that always makes me happy! And an outdoor tool at that!

By the way--Spring Training games began yesterday for the O's.

AND--51 days from today is the tentatively scheduled annual pool opening weekend event!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Dog is an Awesome Dog

What a greeting.

As Chris and I stumbled through the door about 1AM Monday morning after being gone all weekend, our dog, Makayla, provided us with a greeting that was as enthusiastic as any I have ever had.

It was clear that she was happy that we had returned. And it warmed my heart that she was so expressive.

I always feel bad when we are away for an extended time and cannot take her with us. She likes to be with us and to travel with us. As I put my coat on to go out the door on any given day, she is there waiting for me to say the magical word: "roadtrip" which she knows means she is going with us.

I would love to take her with us everywhere--but that is not practical, unfortunately.

She is definitely my best buddy--especially when Chris is out and I am alone at home.
And her greeting reinforced to me that she sees me as her best buddy, too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

People on the Plane You Meet

Having the opportunity to fly to and from Houston this past weekend reminded me of the joys (I am being facetious here) of flying.

Of course we all know that it isn't any fun to fly anymore--between the preflight screening, the undressing in public to get through security, and then being crammed into a long cylindrical airframe like so many sardines in a can--it just is not something I look forward to anymore.

I like being there--I just don't appreciate getting there.

But--on our return flight from Houston, actually it was the leg from Chicago to Washington, DC, I was confronted with an really interesting individual seated across the aisle from me. After I had slept for about an hour as it was late at night, this person decided the entire aircraft needed to start shouting U-S-A, U-S-A at the top of their lungs.

She was loud. And she just couldn't understand why, at 11PM after a long day, people wanted to sleep more than cheer about a losing hockey effort. For some reason she felt that I needed to help her in the cheer and she even hit my arm trying to enlist my aid. OK--I was appalled that she crossed over into my interpersonal zone.

I did an interesting thing--I decided to ignore her. Which was hard. But I was tired and just waking up after a not-so-restful snooze.

I couldn't tell if she had too much to drink or had some other problem, but after the entire plane ignored her cheer--and she tried about six times; she began sobbing. Loudly. She was distressed that she had been dissed in her socially unacceptable behavior. The cabin crew offered her some aid to dry her tears as the plane was beginning the process of landing and she could not go to the lavatory to self-correct.

I heard her subsequently talking under her breath but loudly enough for me to hear that she had never been treated so poorly on a flight in her life.

I felt bad for her--and I still couldn't tell whether this was an alcohol induced situation or a mental situation.

The problem was ultimately solved by landing and deplaning. But I wonder--had the flight been one of those long 14 hour flights I've been on in the past, what would have happened.

It is always amazing the people you meet or interact with on the airplane. I wonder if she even remembered what happened the next morning.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Musings - March 1, 2010

1. Yesterday, I was in Fulshear, Texas at my sister's enjoying lunch outside on the patio in my shirt sleeves. Today, I'm back in the cold looking at snow and the forecast of snow and wondering--why do I live so far north?

2. Air travel gets more and more complicated and difficult. Getting through the pre-flight screening is an art form. And sometimes I feel as if I have to completely redress after I've taken off anything contain metal to go through the scanners. This trip, I found out that my watch now sets the scanners off. Ugh!

3. Sitting outside looking as the clear, blue sky feeling the warm sun on my face was fantastic. Looking out at the trees beginning to clothe themselves in green was nice too. Realizing that it is coming to a place where I live? Priceless!

4. Canada--US hockey. We lost. But then again we won. And I am glad the Olympics are over. It was pretty scary when I got excited about women's curling between Sweden and Canada.

5. I received a greeting from my dog, Makayla, this morning that made me feel real good. She was ecstatic about our return.

6. Traffic around the Washington, DC metro area is not too bad at midnight on a Sunday night. We made it home from Dulles International Airport in 45 minutes. During the day the drive averages an hour and fifteen minutes. At rush hour--it can take three-hours.

7. Spring is coming. Really!
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