Tag: Family (Page 2 of 2)

If We Were Having Coffee #10 – Shrimp Tacos

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If we were having coffee, I could offer you a few choices today. We have a donut shop blend,  a medium roast cinnamon crumb cake, and caramel pecan roll. I seldom have flavored coffee but I did try the caramel pecan roll this week with a sweet cream. Not too bad. I’m going with the donut shop blend and french vanilla creamer.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we dropped the ball on getting my son’s transcripts for college squared away. I wrongfully made the assumption that his high school had handled it considering he took college level classes in high school. When we got his class schedule for his first semester, we noticed they had him down for an english comp class which we knew he had already taken. A quick phone call to the registrar’s office confirmed that they had not received official college transcripts, only the classes listed on his high school transcript stating they were college classes. We completed the process to get his transcripts, the college received them, completed their evaluation, then promptly changed his class schedule this last week.  He transferred in 36 college credits but only 18 of them will count towards his degree program. They are considering one more class which would give him 21. This should lighten his load a little each semester. It all worked out.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I celebrated my wedding anniversary this last week. Twenty years. We had a busy week so we decided to celebrate it with a late lunch on Saturday. There’s probably something more appropriate we should have done for our twentieth but we will have to bank that idea for a bit. Literally. We decided we’d do some shopping Saturday morning followed up with food. M wife wanted crab legs and lobster so Red Lobster became our only choice.

We do shopping a little different than most people. We decide what we are going to spend and withdraw that money from the bank before we go and then divide it between us.  This keeps us grounded and I don’t have to continually add up what I think we are spending during the day as we swipe cards. Our primary goal this weekend was twofold: a laptop for my son and an anniversary meal for my wife and I. The additional shopping was just to make the most of our time in the city; filling the gap between getting the laptop and eating.

We got him a nice Lenovo laptop that should meet his needs for college. I had a marketing class once that discussed the evils of extended warranties. I never purchase them. During my son’s college orientation, in which parents were included, we attended a hour session on IT concerns. It was highly recommended that we purchase one so we did. There is a Best Buy near his college so we bought his computer at Best Buy. I suppose it gives us a level of comfort that he can have the Geek Squad fix his computer, quickly I hope, should anything go wrong.

After that, my wife shopped at Hobby Lobby with her mother, the kids shopped at clothing stores, and I spent my money in Barnes & Noble. I picked up a book on short stories, a James Rollins book, and a book by an author I have never read: Scott Turow. You have to love the bargain priced book section at B&N. Buying so many books in print over the summer has made me realize I need a Kindle since both my wife’s Kindle Fire and my Sony eReader have died.  That and new releases I want to read by a few friends of mine: Erin Sandlin and E.L. Wicker.  Next month we will have to replace my wife’s Kindle and I think I will get the simple reader with the back light so I can read in the dark.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you our late lunch was perfect. My wife and mother-in-law had lobster and crab legs, my youngest son had something called The Admiral’s Feast (his eyes are always much bigger than his stomach), my oldest had a hamburger which is a departure from his normal adventurous eating habits, and I had a lobster bisque, shrimp tacos, and a beer.

Twenty years of being married and the simplicity of tacos and beer sums up my attitude towards most things these days. Life can be as complicated as you choose to make it. As I age, I choose to simplify it. It works for me and has obviously worked with my marriage.

A fly just landed in my coffee. Time for another cup. A fresh cup. How about you?

Until next time…


photo credit: Red Lobster


If We Were Having Coffee #9 – Four More Weeks

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If we were having coffee, I would have the usual flavors on hand to offer and a few choices for creamer.  We tend to always have French vanilla but we also have raspberry chocolate flavored creamer that is quite tasty with a donut shop blend. I’m going with a breakfast blend and French vanilla. Let’s head to my back porch and enjoy the morning shade.

It’s been about four weeks since I have posted anything which I believe is a new record. I’ve tried  to be consistent for the last year and post every week or at worst, every other week. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. Quite the opposite actually considering how much has happened over the last four weeks.

Immediately after my son’s college orientation, I had to work in Texas for a week. I got back home on July 4th at about one in the morning and thankfully had the next week off of work.  On Wednesday morning of my week off, my son left on a trip to Ireland, Wales, and England.  I didn’t write about it then for obvious safety concerns but he had a blast.  He texted us daily and sent loads of pictures each day of his travels, including a few letting us know he was of legal drinking age while there. He returned on Thursday of the following week and then we were in a mad dash preparing for his graduation party on the 18th.  He wanted Mexican food so we made enough food for about a hundred people to each have three tacos, beans, and rice.  We only had about sixty show up so needless to say we put some in the fridge and froze much of the rest.  We’ll be eating burritos and tacos for the next month, which really isn’t a bad thing. I think when it comes time for my youngest son’s graduation we just might have it catered.

iPhone July15 302    iPhone July15 301

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in spite of all the craziness of the last four weeks, I have been reading books each evening to wind down.  We bought a bag full of used books at a local SPCA fundraiser and I’ve read James Rollins, Dan Brown, Lee Childs, Brad Meltzer, and an author I had never heard of: Jeffrey Archer.   I haven’t been writing so reading was a welcome break.  I needed that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is the next four weeks that have me concerned. Four weeks from yesterday, we will be dropping off our son at college.  We only have a few minor things to take care of now prior to his move in and hopefully will be able to enjoy his last four weeks with us somewhat stress free. I keep thinking there is more I need to talk to him about but all I can do is pray that his mother and I have done our job correctly and we are sending off a very grounded, respectful, and capable young man.  Well I suppose there’s one last thing… we need to teach him how to do his laundry.  Beyond that, I know he will be fine.

Four more weeks and life around here will return to some normalcy.  I think.


That One Song

A short post for me this Memorial Day weekend.

I often mention music in my posts and writing because music is something we all relate to. Songs remind us of a time in our lives, a person, or maybe a place.  Markers engrained in our minds.

When I was young, the small town I grew up in had dances for kids all the time. The schools had dances, the Y had dances, the church had dances, and local organizations held dances. For adults, there were weddings, anniversaries, and bars.  There was a song that played at most very event I ever attended and it was somewhat unique to the culture I grew up with.

I left that town when I was sixteen and moved to the city. I returned once in the late eighties to attend my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. That song played and I danced with my grandmother. It was the  only time I had ever danced with my grandmother.  Years later, my grandfather’s brother celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary in Tucson. I was married then so my wife attended with me. When that song played, I jumped up and pulled her to the dance floor. It was the first time she had ever heard it, but knew by the look in my eyes what it meant to me. It didn’t take her long to look around the club and see what it meant to all my relatives. It’s our song, part of our culture and now by being married to me, part of hers.  She loved it.

There is a famous guitar player most of you know: Carlos Santana. What most of you don’t know is he has a brother who is also a gifted musician: Jorge Santana. Jorge played in a band from California and recorded a song that probably is still being played today at dances and family gatherings across the Southwest.

How about you, what is that one song?  As for that one song that means so much to me –  I’ll share it with you.



If We Were Having Coffee #2

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” – Sai Baba

Because I don’t know what else to do in this moment.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how in awe I was of you the first time you came home from Vietnam. I was so young then and didn’t fully understand why you were gone but I remember your crisp uniform and the foreign coins you handed me. You were still in your teens yet had aged.

If we were having coffee, I would thank you for being there for me and my brother when my parents divorced. You filled a void that made a cruel situation bearable. I remember playing in the front yard only to be interrupted by the sound of engines and chains clanging as you and your friend rode down our street to deliver the go-cart and minibike you had bought us, your boyish giggling to my mother’s protests that we were too young. The weekly Rat Patrol adventures in your Mustang, the rides in your patrol car, the constant showering of presents, the groceries to help my mom out… you were always there for us.

Years later, you got the bar and gave me my first steady job. I was only thirteen and had to walk up to the highway and hitchhike there each morning. A miner and customer of yours always stopped to pick me up, one day telling me to skip the long walk up to the highway and he would just pick me up at the end of my street. In addition to my weekly pay, you told me I could have free soda, a bar sandwich, a pack of smokes occasionally, and play as much pool as I wanted.  All I had to do was show up and get my job done cleaning up so the bar would be ready each day before you opened. I started missing an occasional day or two each week and after plenty of warnings, you had to let me go. I was so ashamed that I had let you down.  My first steady job and I was fired by my own uncle.  I’ve never had a problem getting up early again nor have I been fired since.  You taught me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I never felt worthy as an adult to attend the reunion you had with the remaining scouts from your company.  It was a war I never really understood yet learned more over the three hours I was privy to listen to all of your stories, sharing both your laughter and tears with your Marine brothers. I was honored.

If we were having coffee, we would probably laugh at how something we both initially despised (social media) let us both keep up with our daily lives despite the miles that separated us. You still encouraging me like you always have, you getting to know my wife and children and now encouraging them, you only being a mouse click, email, or text message away. You introduced me to your daughter, my cousin and her beautiful family. I shared in your joy at finally finding love this late in life. I would also tell you I agree to disagree on many of your political and social rants but thank you for challenging my thought process. But you already knew this and can laugh with me about it.

If we could have just one more coffee, I would stand up and hug you and tell you I love you for everything you have ever been to me: a big brother, a substitute father, a teacher, and the most caring Uncle I could have ever been blessed with.

I love you Uncle Charlie and look forward to meeting up with you again in that next dimension.


Charlie Sotelo August 8, 1945 – February 21, 2015


Beautiful Day

I had a post in mind I was going to write but decided to save it for next week. Instead I decided to just write about what a great day I had yesterday, and more importantly, what a great day my wife and kids had.

Yesterday, I woke up early like I would any Saturday morning. The two to three hours of complete quietness in my house is something I look forward to each weekend.  A cup or two of hot coffee and time alone to read or write is my weekend morning routine.  I did have an hour to myself but had to wake my eleven year old up at 6:15 so he could be at his school by 7:40. My wife, who loves sleeping in on the weekends, also got up so she could see him off.  He and a few of his classmates were selected to perform at our All-County Honors Festival along with a number of other kids from neighboring towns. The festival showcases a string ensemble, a show choir, and an intermediate band. My son plays trombone.

The plan was to get him dressed in concert attire, let my wife take a few pictures of him, and then drive him into town to catch the bus with his classmates.  Concert time was 2:00 so I would still have time  to spend  with my wife, leave early to pick up my eldest who had spent the night with a friend of his in a small city about forty five minutes from us, then drive another forty five minutes to the small town where the concert would be held. No problem. Okay, not entirely true.


If you read my post a few weeks ago HERE you’d know my wife had foot surgery and few medical hiccups as a result of that surgery.  Her healing has been slow but headed in the right direction. She still is not allowed to have any weight bearing on the foot she had surgery on so her mobility is limited to a wheelchair, a walker, and as of this last week: crutches.  She has been off of work since her surgery back in early December and she only gets out of the house once or twice a week for doctor visits. We live out in the country and do not have a wheelchair friendly entrance to the house. We have steps and this creates a minor problem, strike that, more of a challenge in getting her from the house to the car and back. It’s worse with snow or ice on the ground but we work through it.

When I got home from dropping my son off, my wife had decided she was not going to miss his concert. Her original plan was to stay home and work on a scrapbook to give as a gift to a pregnant co-worker but she ran out of some type of tape and glue drops. How, I don’t know considering the amount of scrapbook supplies she has. She also wondered if we could stop by a store either before the concert or after so she could get the supplies she needs (most likely because I could not possibly figure out what she needed nor would I have the patience). We got ready, successfully completed our challenge of getting her in the car, and headed northeast on back country roads to pick up my eldest. After picking him up and stopping to get us all something to drink, we took the freeway west to make up some time before jumping back onto to another country road to head north. My wife was texting our son to find out if we were any stairs to get to the auditorium. He replied that he didn’t think so.  We were hoping he was right.

I made up some time only because my wife was sitting in the back seat instead of the front where she usually glances at the speedometer and tells me to slow down. Mistake on my part. I was driving around 75 MPH when I happened to see a NY State Trooper parked in the median area on one of those turnaround spots nobody is allowed to use. I passed by him, quickly slowing down as I did. I glanced in the rear view mirror only to see him pull out and  on to the freeway, accelerating towards us.  And then came the lights. Great. We are already running late, my wife and eldest are now scolding me for not paying attention to how fast I was going, and my heart is racing in anticipation of how much a speeding ticket is going to cost in 2015.  My last ticket was seventeen years ago and I was already factoring inflation into the amount. I was thinking that I am screwed.


When the trooper approached our vehicle, I rolled the window down and he introduced himself and told me why he pulled me over (in case I didn’t know). He asked for my license and registration and for about ten seconds I was thinking of something clever to say such as “Hey, I’m writing a novel and one of my main characters is a NY State Police Detective” or “I’m writing a novel and one of your co-workers is helping me with some of the technical details” or “We are in a hurry to see my son’s concert.” All would have been true statements but I sat there like an idiot awaiting my fate. He was reading my license and repeated my address to me, asking if that was my current address. I told him it was. Next he asked if I lived just past five corners. I drew a blank for a minute and then realized what he was talking about and replied “yes, we are about a mile down the road from there.” He told me he knew which house we lived in and that he used to live about a half mile down the road from us but moved about a year ago. I instantly remembered that one of my co-workers who lives over the hill from me had mentioned a few years ago that his daughter and son-in-law lived down the road from me and that his son was a state trooper. I asked if he knew my co-worker and he said “yes, he’s my father-in-law.”  He smiled, shook my hand, reminded me to slow down in the future, then turned around and walked back to his car.  My lucky day? More like small town living and I was grateful.

We made it to the concert in time and the one concern we had regarding my wife being able to watch it was of a non-factor. There were no stairs and my wife walked into the auditorium on crutches like a champ while I parked the car.

I love live music. Yes, I am an eighties rocker but have grown to love most forms of music. The string ensemble, whose participants included a few talented middle school kids and high school kids, performed Celtic Canon and an amazing version of Eleanor Rigby. My niece, who is in middle school with my youngest, played violin with the group along with one of my oldest son’s friends who played string bass.  My youngest also plays string bass in addition to trombone but only started playing it this year. The second group was a show choir and I instantly recognized a few more of my oldest son’s friends. There was a small band of musicians (teachers from around the county), who played for the choir’s performance and two of their songs just happened to be favorites of mine: Faithfully by Journey and Beautiful Day by U2. They did an amazing job with both and to my surprise, the guitar player would have made Neil Schon proud on Faithfully.

Last up was the intermediate band, made up of just sixth graders. They played Pulse Pounding, Portrait of a Clown and African Spirit Dance. Usually I can’t see my son playing trombone but we were so far to the right of the auditorium, we had a perfect view of him. These kids played their hearts out and closing my eyes, I would never have guessed that these were sixth graders. Best of the best and my son was so happy that my wife was there to see him perform.

Our son got to ride home with us instead of taking the bus, so we took advantage of my wife being out and ventured on to another nearby city. This would allow my wife to pick out scrapbook supplies herself; a big thank you to Walmart for having motorized scooters. We were on a roll and decided to push the envelope a little more when we left Walmart and decided we were going out to eat instead of heading straight home. Nothing fancy but it was the first time my wife has been out to eat since early December. My wife was mobile yesterday which might not seem like a lot, but to her and to my sons and me, it was everything.

What a beautiful day.

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