Month: April 2015

If We Were Having Coffee #5

 

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If we were having coffee, I would show off our new coffee carousel we bought last weekend. There are now breakfast blends, a Kona blend, cappuccinos, and a few decafs that will probably occupy space for some time. I’m going with a breakfast blend, sweetener, and French vanilla creamer. I’d also offer you a fresh blueberry muffin my wife just made.  We pick blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries each year and freeze them for use throughout the year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I missed work on Monday.  I aggravated something in my lower back over the weekend and woke up Monday barely able to walk. I was fortunate to be able to see the doctor later that day, and the combination of Tylenol, anti-inflammatory meds, and Icey Hot have me feeling much better.  I’m going to milk it a little though so I get excused from weekend chores which should allow me some extra writing time.  Unless my wife reads this of course.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I watched my son play tennis this week. He decided at the last minute to not run track this year and went out for tennis instead.  He has now played four years of soccer, two years of baseball, one year of track, and now tennis. He’s really made the most of his time in high school.

I only played football in high school although I should have played tennis. I got grounded the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and my mother made me play tennis with her each day as part of my punishment.  This is the same mother who grounded me by making me read books, write book reports, and keep a vocabulary list one summer. She had played tennis in high school and placed in doubles for state. It was humiliating and not cool for a fourteen year old… then.  Some older kids would watch and tease me as my mother would beat me time after time. She challenged them to play and one kid did. He was seventeen. He started playing every day with us and our skills improved with my mother’s coaching. We started playing doubles against two kids who were our school team’s doubles champions.  After beating them, numerous times, they encouraged me and my new friend to try out for tennis.  We were too cool for that and told them tennis was gay. Especially the little white shorts they had to wear.  Ok, ok… to all my gay friends – lighten up. That was decades ago; different time, different era.  I was a closet tennis player but I’m coming out here.

I drove my son to the high school this morning to catch the bus for an out of town tennis meet. Or do you say match?  While we were waiting in the parking lot, a large bus pulled in and this excited my son because he had been told they were taking the little yellow bus. He’s use to the bigger sports that get the full size bus.  The big bus wasn’t his. It was the track team from another town coming to a meet in our town and they were lost.  The tennis coach gave the driver directions to the Athletic Complex,  the little yellow bus pulled up, and I wished my son good luck. I was in a hurry to get back home and get out of chores, you know, because of my back. Ouch.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I followed the big bus out of the parking lot back towards the highway. I noticed they went the wrong way and were heading towards Pennsylvania so I followed them. About five miles down the road, I believe the bus driver realized he was lost and pulled over. I pulled in front of them and got out of my car and walked back to the bus as he was opening the door.  The driver and two coaches both smiled at me when I told them they were still lost; like they didn’t already know that. While they were laughing in agreement, I told them to follow me and I would take them to the Athletic Complex.  They made it to their track meet and I saw the driver, coaches, and a few kids waving at me as I turned around and headed home. Cool.

I’m going to have one more coffee then get back to writing. If the meds kick in shortly, I might just head outside and help with the yard.  Spring cleaning can be somewhat therapeutic. My back will get better. I’ve found over the years that my body is quite resilient.

Maybe I will buy a  racquet and play tennis with my kids. I’d like that.

Until next time…

B

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Check out #weekendcoffeeshare at Part Time Monster

Car Problems, Road Trip, & Stir Fry

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I wanted to focus on my WIP this weekend so I wasn’t going to write a post but as fate would have it, the weekend has been kind to me so I thought I might write something.  I also needed to step back from my story for an hour or so.  Like most of you that are writing something beyond a blog, I am questioning writing time commitments, social media balance, and general life commitments. I have both a short story and novel in progress and need to refocus a bit on both. Yeah, writer problems….

Car Problems

A few weeks ago, my son got a ticket on his way home from town. He didn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection. In New York, you are required to get an annual vehicle inspection and our inspection had expired.  I rarely drive our car and my son and wife have been sharing it for the last few months because we need to get his Jeep fixed.  Our tags are renewed every two years and we get plenty of notice that they are about to expire. The state does not do that for inspections. I suppose one could make the argument that the stickers one must place in the window should be enough visibility to an owner as to when the inspection or tags are due. It was sure visible to the cop (a friend of ours from Little League… small town living). Thankfully he only was ticketed for the inspection having just expired.

About that same time, our engine light came on, the wrench light came on, and our car made a clunking noise when shifting into reverse.  Transmission problems can be expensive and I had suspected we might need tires too. Bad timing considering we were just getting ready to pay property taxes, something my fellow New Yorkers know is painful.

We took our car in Thursday and I assumed we would spend the weekend without it. This in itself creates a logistics dilemma for us considering we have four people all needing to get home at the end of the day and I drive a little Ford Ranger truck (I should be driving a BIG truck but mine is paid for and I only spend $15 a week on gas). We made it through Thursday and Friday, and to my surprise, the garage called us Saturday morning telling us the car would be ready by noon. Tires, transmission tune-up, oil-change, a rear turning bulb, and state inspection fee. Not near the damage I was expecting on the transmission and far under what I had budgeted. I now have a legal car and official form to take to village court on Tuesday.

Road Trip

On our way to pick up the car, my wife suggested we head to the city to take the kids shopping and have dinner (you know, because we now had extra money.. I know women understand this).  We haven’t done this since before Christmas and her argument made sense. If we went yesterday, we could relax today… and I could get some writing in. Neither of us felt like cooking so it sounded logical to me. Deal.

The car ran beautiful on the trip there. She got her fix at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, the kids got theirs at Target, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory, and I bought a few books at Barnes & Noble.  We decided on Chile’s for dinner after not finding a parking place at an Italian place. Probably the better decision anyway considering two of us weren’t keen on Italian food yesterday. We had a wonderful dinner and I had my first Summer Ale of the year. I am somewhat of an oddity when it comes to beer. I have my last beer of the year sometime in early December and don’t have another one until sometime in March or April. Our snow has melted, it’s sunny, and in the fifties. That beer tasted so good.

Stir Fry

Stomachs full, our extra money and then some spent, we were on our way home listening to an Earth Wind & Fire CD my 12 year old son bought. There is something special about my children enjoying music I listened to growing up. My eldest went through it a little by getting caught up in eighties music. My youngest however has downloaded music from both the eighties and a decade earlier. What sort of 12 year old listens to Cat Stevens? We also listened to some other oldies and about an hour into our ride home, my wife shouts at me, asking if I “knew what today was.”  Ugh, Saturday?  A good day? A day to be thankful our small town mechanic is honest?

She said it was our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary but the anniversary of the day we met. We both always remember these things but our life has been a bit hectic as of late. Neither of us remembered yesterday but one of the songs fueled a memory of a tape I had made her so many years ago. Yes, this was back before digital music and playlists.

Twenty three years ago in Arizona, a buddy of mine showed up on my front porch asking me if I wanted to go out to a nearby lake with him, his brother, and his cousin. She was from NY and visiting him on her spring break.  She was blond, wearing a tie die one piece short outfit, too white for April, and annoyed the shit out of me for the next few hours. Despite that, we had a great time and all went out to dinner and a bar later that evening. After the bar, my buddy and his cousin followed me back to my house with everyone now hungry again.  While I was standing in the kitchen cooking, my buddy headed off to the bathroom. During the few minutes he was gone, his cousin kissed me. Yes, alcohol played a part but I was sober enough to realize I was kissing my buddy’s cousin and it freaked me out a little. He came back in the room, we all ate an early morning meal and they were on their way. The next day, they were back and we spent an awkward day together, made even more awkward by day’s end when my buddy asked me if I would entertain his cousin during the evenings for the next week while he worked his second shift job. I agreed.  The next weekend, she went home. My buddy joked that she and I would be a good match. That surprised me considering he knew me and how many years I had been single not to mention the crazy eighties I had lived through. I was NOT the guy you wanted dating your sister or cousin.

Less than three months later, I mailed a one way plane ticket to a girl in New York. My buddy and I split the cost of the ticket. She came.

The first meal I ever made my wife was stir fry chicken twenty three years ago yesterday.

Until next time…

B

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Sometime in 1992

 

Photo (stir fry) courtesy of Pixabay.com 

 

If We Were Having Coffee #4

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If we were having coffee, I would have a number of choices to offer you today: a Kona Blend, a Breakfast Blend, Hazelnut, Maxwell House’s House Blend, and I still have that box of decaf.  We had family over for Mexican food yesterday and bought a number of different flavors to satisfy a house full of coffee drinkers. I will have the hazelnut this morning.

I would tell you a how a writer friend of mine explained what a Kona Blend was to me and likened it to using a Monet for a doormat. I understand now, but instantly thought a Monet doormat would make a wonderful impression. No disrespect to Monet or all you art aficionados of course.

Friends. I would ask you if you thought you could be friends with someone you’ve never met. Well could you? I can and feel I have made friends with a number of beautiful souls over the last year. Strangers, acquaintances, and friends. I won’t get into semantics.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am not as depressed as I initially was after completing the FAFSA application for financial aid awards from the two universities my son was accepted to. There is this magical formula that decides what our expected family contribution should be that almost sent me over the edge.  Financial aid award packets arrived this week. I also did some research on tax breaks, federal work study, and additional scholarship monies my son should receive. My son did his part in earning a very large merit scholarship and he has made his decision on which school he wants to attend now with the more expensive of the two private colleges now being cheaper. I knew it would be his first choice anyway. He loved it despite the fact that they don’t allow freshman to have cars on campus. No worries though because the school  gives free bus passes to students.  He will be able to get to the mall and we can postpone getting a new car and giving him ours for a year. It will still be very expensive but bottom line is it’s doable for us with some minor household changes. We are excited for him and feel very blessed at the opportunity afforded him.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how upset I was at the recent events at a university in Kenya. I just can’t fathom what happened and it saddens me; a shopping mall last year and now a university with innocent people dying for what? Both acts defy any sense of reason. There was a HBO documentary on television the other night about the incident at the mall. Stories of how an act of terrorism brought about acts of heroism and human spirit. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, blacks, whites, mothers, children, store employees, police officers, and students.

Yet here I sit making minor adjustments with bills, getting rid of some premium channels, adjusting our phone plan by getting rid of our land line, and postponing the new car. We are spoiled as a country and I wonder how many people here realize how fortunate we really are as we continue to complain about such trivial crap in the greater scheme of things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about a touching post I read the other day on Facebook by one of my friends from graduate school.  She had commented about how she couldn’t imagine what the families of those Jewish children who died in a fire in Brooklyn last month were going through and said she was praying for both them and their families. She is originally from New York City and is also a mother of two kids herself.  She and her husband are Muslim. Her husband is also an officer in the Marine Corp. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing yet everything.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I welcomed the day with more snow. Much of it had melted over the last few days with warmer spring weather finally arriving. The forecast called for less than an inch of snow today. They were wrong. I think we already have two inches. I love it. Some of you are already planting flowers or gardens. For us, our first planting isn’t until May. It will all work out.

Lastly, I would tell you Happy Easter or maybe Happy Passover. Regardless of your religious convictions or non-convictions, beliefs or non-beliefs, I would just want you to have a happy day.

Until next time…

The view from my kitchen window this morning

The view from my kitchen window this morning

 

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