Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sunshine and Memories

It seems like I come up with my best writing ideas when I’m busy doing something else.  So then, unless I have something to write a few notes on, I have to try to keep those ideas from falling out of my head until I’m finished with what I’m doing.  Today it was yardwork…

It was a hot, cloudless day today so, after spending a few hours out there, I’m not sure if I’m going to be looking tanned tomorrow, or simply burnt.  But everything looks better out there than it did this morning and that makes the sacrifice of looking a bit lobsterish okay, right?

I wore long shorts so I’m not going to have an all-over tan (there were far too many people driving past on their way to who knows where in the greater Uniontown area). But that thought reminded me of the time I accidently volunteered to help someone stain a deck.  And I say “accidently” because I did tell her that I was willing to help, but I didn’t have the right clothes with me at the time so I didn’t think that I’d have to follow through on it.  But…….

I was given a pair of incredibly short women’s shorts to wear.  Seriously short.  And tight.  But, never one to back down from a challenge – or from potential humiliation – I changed into them and started to stain a deck in an outfit that would have me considered underdressed for working at Hooters.  Fortunately, it was the back deck.  With very few witnesses…

Today wasn’t anywhere near so crazy but, in between mowing and trimming and weeding (all of that fun outdoor stuff), Graham wanted to go out.  And, for some reason, he’s been in an absolute mood this week.  I looked away for a minute and he almost took down a crow.  That bird was flying sideways to get away after he swatted a wing.

Then, just when I think he’s safely napping in the shade under the car, I see the brown blur of a cat tearing across the yard with the orange blur of Graham chasing right behind.  Have I mentioned he’s territorial?  Enough so that he punched a 60 pound dog in the nose just for taking one step off the road and onto our yard.  And then he just stared him down, daring that dog to make a move.  But then he just came back looking so proud that you had to be impressed.

But then, for some odd reason, I trusted him out in the yard yet again, thinking that 90 degree temperatures would calm him out.  Yeah…I learn all my lessons the yard way…

This time, after running branches and weeds down the hill and discovering that he was no longer anywhere to be seen, I took a break to search him out.  And, fortunately I picked the right direction to look and found him at just the right time…

As I peeked into the neighbor’s yard, I was just in time to see him leap out of the bushes, scaring a half dozen birds who took off into the air, screaming at him as they escaped.  And Graham had a look of pure joy on his face.  Then, seeing me there in his moment of glory, he ran up to me and quickly climbed up me, all 13 pounds of fur and claws.  And I was incredibly glad to be wearing a long pair of shorts in that moment.

Sure, my short-short ensemble may have given me a great tan over 95% of my body back then, but today at least I’m majority claw scar free…

 

Make Someday Today (Or How ‘Bout Them Cubs?)

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It happened.  Last night (or actually very early this morning) it happened.  And it still hasn’t remotely sunk in yet.  But maybe, just maybe, if I type it out, it will seem completely real…

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Okay, maybe just once more…

My beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Ahh…it’s starting to seem real already.

No one one ever said being a Cubs fan was going to be easy.  Actually, those of us who have passionately cheered for them over the years have found it incredibly easy to tell everyone around us just how very hard it is.  We’ve shared our expectations of collapse, of ill-timed strikeouts, of booted ground balls and pitching changes that happened either too soon or not soon enough.   We’ve all shared stories of exactly where we were when that proverbial rug was torn out from under us in each and every one of the years past.  And we swear that none of it ever took us by surprise because we knew it would happen all along.

So when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch into the dirt that bounced directly off of David Ross’ face, and when Ross stood up, only to trip over his own feet and fall over as two runs came in, that wasn’t shock in our voices.  It was a collective of choice words that all translated into “Here we go again”.

And when Aroldis Chapman gave up that game tying home run that screamed low and fierce over the left field wall, all of us screamed out words that meant “Yep, I knew that was going to happen” (even if I need to apologize for being a slight bit more colorful with my word choice than that in the heat of the moment).  We’ve been there before.

But this year…?

Maybe there was some hope that remained.  Maybe there was some belief that it wasn’t actually over yet and that this year could still be different.  That maybe it would just be another story about how hard they made it in the end and how much they put us through one more time before coming through in the big moment.  Like we all knew they would this time.  Sure…  I’d like to believe in that.

Land you know what?  I kept watching.  The game went on with me absorbed, Schwarber to Almora Jr. to a run, then another then giving back one in the bottom half of the inning before…  It ended.  And the Cubs had won.  And I had no idea what to do.  How do you celebrate something you’ve been wanting for years but you never planned for?

So here I sit, basking in the glow of a moment that will stick with me forever, typing and eating left over Halloween candy, and feeling a little like something has changed in the world.  Maybe nothing all that much has actually changed, or maybe all of it is only in my mind, but it does feel like a whole new day.

It’s like there’s just a little more promise hovering in the air.  A little more hope dancing around making it easier to believe in those parts of life that have stayed just a little out of reach for too long.  And my lips are pulled up into the start of a smile through each moment of the day thinking of possibilities   It’s sappy, sure.  And it’s probably me being a bit of a hopeless romantic.  That too.  I’ve been called that before.  But not everything we experience is completely quantifiable.  What fun would that be?

Sometimes it’s just about enjoying what life might have out there for us and believing that someday isn’t as far away as it can feel on certain days.  That’s what I’ve learned as I try to wrap my head around it all today.  Sometimes the Cubs are more than the Cubs.

So how ’bout them Cubs?

Drawing Dinosaurs

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As I’ve been spending a lot of time going through the book giveaways I’ve received lately, I came across one that can supposedly teach me how to ‘Draw People in 15 Minutes or Less’.  I’m not sure if my end result after those 15 minutes would actually resemble my less than complete willing models, or if those subjects I selected would be flattered by my attempt or just insulted by the sight of the final product, but I guess an ugly drawn person is still a drawn person.  So the author would still be technically correct, right? Because I drew a person in 15 minutes (or probably much less ’cause my attention span is…oh, a squirrel!,).

But, more important than the lesson it thought me about my lack of artistic talent, that book reminded me of another one from years ago…

Back when I was a kid, we went to the library each week during the school year (and probably at least twice a week during the summer).  Sure, it was probably just a plan conceived to get us out of the house and keep us out of trouble for a few hours (me more than my sisters of course), but we loved it and I always came home with a big stack of books to try and get through before it was time to go back and find some new ones.  At least until this one time when, as a 7-year-old, I made it onto the library’s banned list.  Yep, I started my life as a trouble maker young…

According to ‘the system’, and what ‘the man’ told me (through their 68-year old woman representative behind the desk), I had never returned one of the books I’d checked out and it was now overdue.  No new books for me until it was returned.

“I returned it,” I told my dad.

“I know I returned it,” I told my mom.

“I’m 100% certain I returned it,” I told both parents.

“Shut up,” I told my sisters for what I assume was a good reason.

I had no doubt whatsoever that the library was wrong, that they had it somewhere in the back and were blaming me for a crime that I didn’t commit and enjoying my emotional pain.  Weeks went by.  Months went by.  $1.24 in late fees accumulated.  And, completely against my 7-year-old wishes, my parents went to the library’s front desk and paid for the book.

I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe my parents’ lack of belief in me and their lack of willingness to fight the system on my behalf.  It was disturbing but, then again, at least I was allowed my previous library rights and the librarians treated me as if nothing had ever happened.  But my faith in my parents was still shaken.  So much so that when, two years later, I found the book behind my dresser, I was tempted not even to tell them about it.

So a thin, orange hardcover book showing me just how to draw the 40 top styles of dinosaurs that everyone would want to see was now mine.  Permanently.  It was bought and paid for.  But, due to the immense amount of 7-year-old shame attached to the find of that book, I don’t believe that I ever opened it up again.

Now, if I try to draw a dinosaur, it pretty much looks like a couch with arms.  So owning the book for all these years hasn’t helped me one bit.  And, opening it up and re-reading it now won’t help because…well…I’ve lost it again.  And I’ve even looked behind the dresser this time.

 

I’ve Still Got It (Don’t I?)

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Some days are just so much better than others.  Some days are for staying in bed and avoiding the rest of the world at all costs.  Sure.  Those happen.  They’re usually referred to as weekdays.  But then some days are for singing at the top of your lungs in the car and not worrying about the person next to you at the stop light staring at you with a smirk on his face.  And this is coming from the guy who was massively embarrassed to be voted “Most Easily Embarassed” in high school…  Ironic, huh?  But when the German version of Nina’s 99 Luftballons comes on, you just have to sing along, even if you don’t know a stitch of German and are just making random noises until the chorus comes back around.

I’m a pretty impressive dancer too, as long as I’m not observed and I stay seated.  So I guess you could call me a double threat when I’m driving.  A triple threat if you add in my driving skills.

A number of years ago (you know…once upon a time…) I went out with some co-workers on a Friday night, thinking we were just going to hang out at a bar, have a few drinks, listen to some music and recover from a long week.  However… (You know what?  If I ever have a biography written about my life, that’s going to be the title.  However…  I think it fits perfectly.)

But back to the point…  Instead of a relaxing night out, I was being set up with a friend of a friend.  It happens.  People try to set their friends up and see what crazy thing happens.  It’s usually painful and awkward for those involved.  But at least it makes for some great stories.  And, in this case, that’s all it made for.

The club we went to was loud and packed, but somehow we managed to luck into a table where we could sit and comfortably watch the people around us.  Or so I thought… When a few of our group got up and headed over to the dance floor, my “date” took my hand and pulled me along with them.  And, on our way, she leaned in close and whispered a frightening phrase in my ear…  “I hate guys that can’t dance.”  No pressure, right?

The rest of the night was pretty much a blur.  Of course that might be for the best.  We were out there on the dance floor for a while and she didn’t ditch me so I must have done all right.  I don’t remember bumping into too many people, or smacking anyone with an arm that flailed out in a move that was uniquely all my own.  So we’ll call it a success.

There was no follow up date (though that was a mutual decision that I believe had nothing to do with my moves).  She could have been jealous of my skills…  You never know.  I’ve just got to have confidence, let loose and who cares what anyone thinks.  After all, AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long just came on.  And I’m gong to belt it out, even if the window is rolled down and everyone can see and hear me at every stoplight along the way.  Because life’s way too short to hold in your swag…

 

 

Merry Christmas!

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I can’t believe that there’s less than 4 weeks until Christmas.  And if that’s the case, you know I’m having a really hard time believing that it’s only hours away now…

It doesn’t help that we’re setting records for high temperatures this month and that its supposed to reach 70 degrees today (the average is somewhere in the high 20’s around here this time of year).  And, when the novel I’m writing takes place in late spring through early fall, my mind just isn’t on winter at all.  Especially when the weeds are growing, birds are singing and there’s the smell of green grass and approaching rain in the air.  It’s crazy.

Obviously I waited to do my Christmas shopping until the very last minute because the UPS driver just dropped off a handful of packages at the door.  He didn’t stop at any of the neighbors – not a single one – so I guess they were a bit more prepared…  Maybe once I start wrapping gifts (something that should take a while since it’s not something I’m overly talented at doing) it will feel a bit more like Christmas around here.  I’m debating whether or not to wrap Graham’s gifts since he’s going to let me unwrap them for him anyway.  Plus I wouldn’t want to take up too much room under the tree when he likes to nap under there anyway.  Seem like a fine excuse…?

Santa was across the street late this morning on a motorcycle in case you’re tracking his progress.  There were 4 other bikers escorting him on whatever route he was driving, so he appears to be well taken care of.  It makes me wonder where he was off to and what is going on for the kids today.

Every year, as Christmas flies by, I wish that I had been more involved in doing things for those who are struggling.  For those who really don’t have anything.  There are certain times of year that make it obvious how blessed we are, and Christmas really jumps out as the most blatant example.

So I wish you and your families and loved ones a wonderful, safe and merry Christmas.  And I pray that all children out there have a surprise waiting for them and can enjoy the day with a sense of excitement and wonder.  I’ll be in good ol’ Fayette County for Christmas but will still be remembering all of you in all of the places I’ve called home over the years.

Have an absolutely blessed Christmas!!

 

As John Lennon said, “Imagine…”

Peace Ain't Weakness

Peace Ain’t Weakness

Let’s get serious for a minute. No…seriously…

Sometimes when you see all of the media coverage of the evil that takes place in the world, the videos, the tweets, the links and the words written by the ignorant, it becomes nearly impossible to believe that one good person can make a difference in this world. It feels too big, too overwhelming. There seem to be more people on the other side of the fight and evil seems so much bigger – and stronger – than good. You start seeing all of the bile and anger and rage that is spewed out over the Internet and hate seems more powerful than love.

Attacks on innocent people are not about gun control. They’re not to be used for a political agenda. They’re not about religion or God’s judgement for our sins, or anything that pumps up our own ideals or desires.  They’re about people suffering and dying in a world that faces the action of evil men.

Senator Ted Cruz said this on his website in response to the attacks in Paris – “We must immediately recognize that our enemy is not ‘violent extremism.’ It is the radical Islamism that has declared jihad against the west. It will not be appeased by outreach or declarations of tolerance. It will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life.”

Not to play into the red vs. blue politics here because I believe that people on either side can be wrong, but this statement explains everything wrong with the world’s way of thinking these days.  You attack me and I’ll attack you and your family. You kill one of ours, we’ll kill two of yours.  If someone like us is killed, we’ll kill as many who are different from us as possible, regardless of guilt or innocence.  Those aren’t the values our country was founded upon, they aren’t the values of any civilized group of people anywhere in the world. We, along with our allies need to make very conscious decisions on how we will use the power of our nations  – the power of our people – to make this world a better place – a safer place – than it was yesterday. But we can’t respond in hate. In that scenario, everyone loses.  And our leaders aren’t put in place to make the easy decisions.  They’re to do what’s right, regardless of the challenges in place.  Sometimes, that involves acts of war and violence because there is no other option to protect others.  But it is never something to take lightly or to be flip about.

There is so much violence in the world today that we’ve become desensitized to all of it that doesn’t occur in a beautiful Western city and anything that’s not played over and over again in front of us on the news. There are so many people living in fear, so many innocent men, women and children experiencing violence and hunger on a daily basis that it’s time we looked at ourselves and the world around us and stopped using our hate as a weapon. Did someone change their profile pic on Facebook to the French flag? No problem. It means that they’re feeling pain for others.  There’s no reason at all for you to be mad.  Is someone offering to pray for the people in Lebanon? Good. That’s not an offensive act.  Accept that act of kindness in the spirit it was given.   Is prayer not your “thing”?  Then take up your own action to make the world better. I’ve seen more people getting angry and offended by people who want to do a little something than I’ve seen directed toward murderers around the world. Politicians want to ban refugees who are suffering to make a statement and people are encouraging this through hate speech on-line.  And it’s disgusting. I’ve seen so much anti-Muslim, anti-Middle East, Anti-Israel, anti-America, anti-everything it makes me ashamed.  We’ve been created to love our neighbor. Even if you don’t have a religious belief structure, and even if that’s not a commandment you believe in, that still feels like the right thing to do, doesn’t it?  But how many of us have forgotten how it feels to make another person smile?  The amazing rush of joy that comes over us when we pick someone else up, simply because they need it, without caring about ourselves for a moment.

My God is so much more powerful than man’s explosives and bombs. Your God is so much stronger than man’s inherent hate. Our God has the strength to calm the violent seas stop the winds. And the love I have been given is enough to love Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Wicken, hate-filled “Christians”, and every other person of every group on this planet.  It takes nothing away from me to love each of you, to want everyone to have enough to eat today, to pray for the safety of families and individuals living in the midst of way and terror. No one is made weaker by doing their part to clothe others, to feed others, to provide shelters to all of those in need.  And it doesn’t matter if they believe what I believe.  Love first, debate later.

Some people will always hate.  Some peoples’ world view has become so distorted that they can only see the differences in people and view the world around them as scary and evil and dangerous and see violence as the only acceptable and justified response. But you know what?  We outnumber them.  If we’d shut down the people who respond to the bad of the world with hate and anger… If we’d show them the strength of love and compassion… If we would just show them that we’re all just so much better than those thoughts and actions, we could make a difference rather than being part of the mindless complaining crowd.

The world hasn’t become a worse place to live over the past 20, 50 or 100 years. The same problems exist that always have. We’ve just gotten lazy.  But just imagine what could change if we all woke up.

Rest In Peace

It’s extremely overdue.  I’ve been holding onto the idea of this blog post for quite a while…  I’ve been hesitant to write it because it’s really not my story.  Or, let me slightly adjust that thought and say that my story is simply a small part of the complete tale.  So I’ve decided to at least touch on my part of the story – my small part of the bigger picture – and we’ll see where it goes.  Okay?

It began on August 28th.  Many of you probably heard the news story when it occurred, but it faded from your thoughts and memories over the following weeks as it wasn’t completely relevant to your daily lives.  But on that day, Michigan State Trooper Chad Wolf died.  It was a tragic accident that took his life, and a moment when every tiny situation had to line up with every other seemingly insignificant event of the day to bring about the loss of a good cop, a wonderful man, and my cousin.

As insane as it seems to say about a 38-year-old family man, when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.  An extra glass of orange juice at breakfast, and the moment would never have happened.  A traffic light that turned yellow just a half-second earlier and it would have been a normal day.  But it wasn’t.  A car with a trailer strikes a motorcycle, and an accident becomes national news.

Chad’s death was far more than a news story to me though because he was family, and everything that I heard about it was from members of the family. And while the news stations did all they could to cover the visitations, the funeral and the grave site ceremony, I was there with family, and it was completely real.

I wasn’t as close to Chad as I should have been – that’s my fault – and it had been a few years since I had actually seen him.  I should have made a call and stopped by the last few times I passed through the area.  I didn’t, and then the years passed by.  But I knew him well enough to know that all of the stories people told about him were true.  Stories told by his friends at the reception, stories told by co-workers at the funeral, and stories told by family over meals before we left town.  I’d known him as a goofy kid that we saw every so often over holidays when our families got together.  Then, later on, I was incredibly impressed to see the man he grew up to be.

He always had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room.  If he hadn’t seen you in years, he wanted to know just what you’d been up to.  If he’d seen you the day before, he’d want to know just how you were doing, no pretenses or “I’m good thanks, how are you?”.  He was genuely concerned with people – their days, their lives, their growth, their feelings.  You just don’t find that much in this world.

He was one of those people who seemed to be blessed to be given 36 hours to work with every day, because he could give so much of himself to everyone around him and still be an active father, a devoted husband and a Trooper who could inspire glowing, praising phone calls to his bosses from people to whom he’d just given a traffic ticket earlier that day.  He was the kind of man it would be easy to resent and feel jealousy about if he just hadn’t been such a good, all around guy.

And it makes me think…  You’re not guaranteed anything in this world.  He was only 38.  And I’m at a point in my life where I’m older than my mother was when she unexpectedly passed away.  So it’s hard to know how much time any of us have to create our legacy in life.  I have goals and dreams for what my life is supposed to mean, and how I’ m supposed to make the world a better place through my presence.  And his life – and its abrupt ending – puts that into a whole new perspective, time-wise.

So thank you Chad.  For a life well lived, for being a witness to those you had just met, and for providing an example.  Now it’s time for me to kick into gear and complete everything I was created to accomplish.  And to touch as many lives through my life as possible.  Each and every day…

“I’ve Got Your Back”

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Don’t mess with our turf…

Just four little words that I said yesterday…

I was taking Graham for a walk and, as we came to the area as close to the road as he’s allowed, we saw a dog.  A large dog.  A large Rottweiler actually.

The dog was trotting across the street from us and, when he turned and noticed us, Graham dropped into the customary posture he adapts when he sees large dogs – he dropped down onto his belly in the grass with the goal of becoming invisible.  Maybe it was because I was right there with him, actually choosing to be friendly with the dog, but his ploy didn’t work.

The dog turned and started to trot accross the road, checking us out and, seeing his positive gait and knowing he wasn’t going to be a threat, I whispered down to the brave cat laying between my feet, joking “don’t worry, I’ve got your back”.

As soon as I said it, Graham hopped back up onto his feet (err…paws) and took a determined step forward.  The dog stopped in the middle of the street for a moment, cocked it’s head, and started walking towards us again.  And, wouldn’t you know it, the little furball decided to show off his bravery.  Just as the Rottweiler touched our side of the road, Graham let out a growl that completely surprised him, stopping him in his tracks.  He took a few more steps along the side of the road, looking at us, but no longer prepared to come directly at us.

Then, after a moment, he decided to take one more step toward us, Graham let out a hiss and charged.

Somehow, I managed to catch the little guy before he’d gotten very far, going down to my knees before turning to see what the dog had decided to do.  Fortunately, he’d taken a few steps away from us, not wanting anything to do with the challenge.  Then, Graham turned to look at me, gave me a look that said “what are you waiting for, we can take him!”  And with that, he pulled away from me, hissed as loudly as he could, and took off.  And so did that dog.  Just as fast as he could with a furry orange streak in his rear view.  He wanted nothing at all to do with us.  He probably thought we were crazy…

Sure, I’d stand up to a 50-lb Rottweiler for Graham.  And that’s a good thing for him to know in life.  After all, you’ve always got to have someone who’s going to be there for you through anything and everything.  But I’m going to have to teach him the next part of the lesson – don’t go picking fights just because you know I’ve got your back.  We don’t actually have to fight.  I’m more than willing to pick you up and carry you into the house to get away from potential trouble.

And then we can tell everyone stories about how brave we were later.  We can even tell them there were two Rottweilers.  Whatever story you want to tell, I’ve got your back.

 

 

For Sale…

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The duct-tape double-wide is gone.  Hallelujah!

I don’t know where the monstrosity has gone on its journey – if it was moved to take the role of a home for somebody, or if it was just pausing here for a bit before continuing the rest of the way on its path to destruction.  But…it disappeared on Tuesday – trash day.  That doesn’t seem coincidental.  Though I have a limit on how many garbage bags I can leave out each Tuesday morning…?  I’m not complaining, just saying.

It’s garage sale season here in Fayette County.  When I say that, I don’t mean that you can drive past a lot of sales each Friday and Saturday.  It’s more of an everyday thing.  There are two in particular that I drive by every day that have been active for more than a month!  One’s technically a yard sale (everything that’s for sale is out in the short gravel driveway and strewn across the yard – the wet grass – and many things have been out there for weeks, rain or shine.  If you stop by, just knock on the door to let them know you’re interested.  You can walk around the trailer to see the many brightly-colored plastic children’s toys.  Since they’re waterproof, they’d be your safest bet.    I think they bring in the racks of clothes at night or when it’s raining, but I’ve never understood buying other people’s old clothes…

There’s even a pearl-colored Cadillac Escalade parked on the edge of the hill beside the trailer – only a firm push away from an entertaining roll down toward the trees.  It’s had a ‘For Sale’ sign on its windshield for as long as the yard sale has been going on.   It doesn’t seem to fit in its surroundings, but do any of us?

A garage sale a few miles away actually has an ‘Open/Closed’ sign out at the edge of the two-lane highway to let everyone know when to stop and when to drive on by.  It’s like a thrift store located in a square brick building with a roll-up door that takes up the entire front wall.  It looks pretty dark in there since the sun doesn’t reach all the way to the back during normal business hours.   And the bricks aren’t all set flush upon each other and it looks only a couple of storms away from collapse, so I’m not endorsing stopping.  It’s a curiosity, but one best seen at 45 miles an hour.  Minimum.

There’s a brand new dollar store being built close by that might impact the business these families are getting.  Or hope to get.  It’s going up on the site where there used to be a combination grocery/antique store.  I’ll miss that place, even though I completely avoided shopping there.  After all, do you really want to purchase your “Fresh” food at a place that also focuses on items from fifty or a hundred years ago?  I’m not saying that there were ever problems, but I just wouldn’t want to risk the result of an overlap in their business.  Think you could find a dusty case of Tab soda in that place…

New usually doesn’t replace old here in Fayette County.  Instead, new is usually built – quickly and haphazardly- right next to the rust and dilapidation of the old.  The new house built right next to an old trailer on one side and an out-of-business old tire shop on the other, for example.  Placed there because it’s family land, or was just cheap.  Or the new sandwich shop set up next to a 150-square-foot shack advertising “Tatoos” with a “For Rent” sign in its greasy window.

But I guess maybe that’s considered small-town charm.  In some circles anyway.  Me, I just shake my head when I see it, stifle a laugh if anyone else is around, and state the only explanation I have…  “Fayette County…”

 

Happy Independence Day

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Hey everyone!

I’ve been traveling and hope to be home to enter a a “real” post tomorrow but, while I’m out on the highways and byways, I wanted to wish you all a wonderful holiday today!  I hope you’re able to enjoy some time with family and friends, cookouts, fireworks, sparklers, firecrackers, M-80s and whatever.  Because…

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Ahh, the stories many of us could tell, I’m sure.  Like Lindsay, my grade school friend…  If you’re reading, I really didn’t try to shoot that bottle rocket up your nose.  And I’m very glad I missed…

So enjoy the day, the weekend, and hopefully some wonderful summer weather wherever you are!!

And Happy 239th America!  You don’t look a day over 180 (though you may be showing a little puffiness around the edges – New York City and Los Angeles – and few wrinkles in the middle – ahem, Fayette County.  But who’s perfect…?

Have a great one everyone!!