If You Want It Done Right, Get Larry To Do It

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My younger brother Larry often amazes me. He has the skillset to blend in with the locals in whatever venue he finds himself. Did I mention he lives in Oklahoma? That’s not to say he is opposed to making a sale or two in Texas, Arkansas or Kansas, but he’s got Oklahoma covered. He knows Oklahoma like the back of his hand. Consequently, he probably would say that he’s always surrounded by knowledgeable, compassionate and thoughtful people. After all, Oklahoma is not only “OK”; it definitely is on top of Texas.

 

Larry is never a fish out of water. He is always amicable and very much displaying a servant leadership role. Long story short, he is likeable and carries his weight in any conversation. He is very much a people person and is equipped with the gift of gab like no other. He could talk the horns off of a billy goat. He knows when and how to initiate a thoughtful conversation. I suspect the conversation generally goes in whatever direction Larry opts to steer it. He has the uncanny ability to garner instant credibility because he seems like such a genuinely nice person. Of course, those skills were honed in Texas, but they play well in Oklahoma. Maybe it is his ear-to-ear smile that captures the heartstrings of those he generally meets.

 

Larry is also resourceful. He is well read and knows when to quote an author or simply when to choose his own way of making a point. He participated in Toastmaster for years to initially become comfortable with public speaking. Later it had more to do with how to capture your audience in the first thirty-seconds. Now he could teach a course in effective public communication. Three words out of his mouth, and he has you hooked to see where he is going with his story. Honestly, I don’t know how he manages to always come out a winner, but he generally gets exactly what he needs and he makes it all seem so easy.

 

I suspect that at times he is as clueless as I sometimes appear to be, but he masks it well. That has to work in his favor. If I’m having a senior moment, I’ll own it and ask for help. Not Larry, he is going to wait until he cognitively catches up or simply say nothing pretending that he is on the right page. He is a very smart man. His confidence always works in his best interest.

 

Yesterday evening I got into a world of trouble with the General because according to her, “I turned on the defroster in her car”. I immediately countered: “I haven’t touched anything.” Honestly, I was being truthful. I did nothing of the kind and said so much as well. The General then pointed to the indicator on the dash reflecting the defroster was selected. How did that happen? I still don’t know, but reportedly, according to the General, “I mess up her car every time I drive it”. Stupidly, I fell into the trap she laid out. “We’ll from now on, you can do all of the driving when we go anywhere”.

 

I have the potential to be a little over the top in the drama category at times, but I had been unfairly accused. I had both of my hands on the steering wheel and had not touched anything amiss in her fancy car. I added: “I am no longer going to drive your car ever again. This is the last time”. She said, “Good! We will go in the truck”. She didn’t refer to it as “my truck”, only “the truck”. After years of working for attorneys, she has the mindset that it is all hers.

 

See, at times I can’t win for losing. I don’t want to drive my truck. It puts too many miles on it and I’d prefer to save the miles and keep the truck looking newer longer. The truck is five years old and I’ve been averaging 4,000 miles a year. Why wear it out?

 

At any rate, my younger brother is too smart to ever get into that kind of mess with his wife. He is the quintessential diplomat in resolving all disputes and orchestrating a win/win for every problem. For example, he and the Mrs. recently purchased a new washing machine. Actually, I’m a little hesitant to tell his story even though I gained his permission for fear I’ll get something out of order and express it in not the exact verbiage in which it was shared. He will call my hand on that rather than simply acknowledging that I have the storyline correct.

 

At any rate, you can’t have a new washing machine without also purchasing a new clothes dryer. When you live in Oklahoma everything has to match perfectly. I don’t know if the new dryer was an after thought or if there was another explanation that they weren’t delivered at the same time. At any rate, the washer was in place and Larry subsequently gave their perfectly used dryer away on the premise that it be picked up on Tuesday before the new dryer was delivered the next day.

 

It worked like a charm until the person at the appliance store telephoned the Mrs. with the news that the delivery schedule wasn’t working out and that the clothes dryer would not be delivered on the day it was promised. I think the new day was Friday.

 

Larry and the Mrs. are equally yoked. She is also smart. When she has a problem, she also has a solution. This time the solution involved my brother. He has a shiny red pickup truck. He could go by the appliance store and pick up the dryer. There was no way she could wait until Friday for the dryer to be delivered.

 

I can almost hear Larry now: “You want me to do what?” Larry would be quick to say that he works for a living and couldn’t be gone from his office. He had the good sense not to tell the Mrs. that her solution was preposterous. He wasn’t about to do that. Like I said, “He is a smart man.”

 

Picking up the phone, he telephoned the appliance store. The scenario went something like this. “My name is Larry Forrester and I really need your help. My wife just learned that the dryer that was scheduled for delivery tomorrow can’t be delivered until Friday. Consequently, she wants me to come by and pick it up. I really can’t get away from the office. I have to work and time just doesn’t permit. I need your help because my wife needs my help. She can’t wait until Friday for the clothes dryer. She has to have it. Is there anyway possible you could deliver it? It would really be helpful to me”.

 

Like I said, “The conversation always goes in whatever direction Larry opts to steer it.” The appliance salesperson just became a miracle worker. “I don’t know what time we can deliver it, but I’ll make sure it gets delivered the day you need it.” Larry is smooth. I can imagine that he reconfirmed what he just heard. “So are you saying you can deliver it on the day previously scheduled?” I can see the smile on his face as he hung up the phone. “If you want it done right, get me to do it” was obviously the thought running through his head.

 

Thinking he was the hero, he telephoned the Mrs. to let her know he had effectively solved her problem. He didn’t get the response he expected. The Mrs. couldn’t wait all day for the dryer to be delivered. She had lunch scheduled with some ladies and plans for the afternoon. The dryer had to be delivered in the morning.

 

Being very much the take-charge, solution focused diplomat, Larry came up with another solution. Their daughter lives only a few minutes away. Perhaps she could wait at their house until the dryer was delivered while the Mrs. fulfilled her social obligations? His simple solution worked like a finely oiled machine.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It Was A Real Treat

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Did I mention that my son and his family don’t watch HGTV? At least they didn’t while I was in their home. That’s not to say they live in a television free environment. They don’t. They even have a wall-mounted television outside on the patio near the pool. I haven’t yet figured that one out. I guess you could say, “I’m old school”. Electricity and water seems like the formula for a perfect mix-up that might not end well. On the other hand, were that true, it would be a memorable ending.

 

While Craig was grilling steaks Saturday night, I noticed the outside television was turned on. I mean, after all, who’d want to miss a ball game? Okay, I’m fairly certain that it was a baseball game and not football. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you the name of team that was playing, the color of their uniforms or whether the game was tied or even close. Actually, that would reflect more interest than I really had to invest. However, the time shared in Craig’s home was very pleasant.

 

Truthfully, we weren’t outside long. Craig follows my formula for a twelve-minute perfect steak. The ingredients include seasoning (old family recipe – I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you) followed by six minutes on each side for a perfect steak! Of course, if you prefer your steak really rare, you’d detest the experience. The same is true if you have a hankering for well done. This recipe falls somewhere in the middle. Of course to get it right, you need a really hot grill.

 

Craig mentioned my parents Saturday evening as he was getting the steaks ready to put on the grill. He said that when my folks came to visit them in Virginia, he had purchased an expensive cut of meat and he couldn’t bring himself to burn it. Consequently, he apologized in advance to my folks by telling them he wasn’t going to make a burnt offering out of their dinner. Consequently, they were in for a new experience.

 

Following our meal, that proved to be delicious on Saturday, we were in for another treat, so-to-speak. “Treat”- Isn’t that something you give to a dog? We were going to watch a movie. At least it wasn’t the Griswold Christmas Vacation! With Craig, you never know. If he likes it, he is perfectly content to watch it again and again. I doubt that it would even have to be seasonally appropriate to garner Craig’s attention. Reportedly, Becky picked this movie out. It was entitled “A Dog’s Purpose”.

 

Five minutes into the movie, I had a sense of where this was going. Had Andrea and Kevin finally passed the ball on to Craig and Becky? If there was an upside, at least they had finally given up if they had. I am not giving in and getting another dog. I’d soon teach Craig and Becky the same lesson if they pushed my buttons on the dog issue. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. We are not going to do it again. How difficult is that to comprehend, accept and support?

 

Of course, if they think I’m challenging now, just wait until we have the “give me your car keys” discussion. Trust me, I will win on that one too. I’m old enough to know what works for me and what doesn’t. Did I mention that one of Craig and Becky’s dogs crawled up in my lap and wanted to lick my face. I’m not doing that! Of course, my anxiety rose a little when Becky said: “Lennie doesn’t usually do that. He must really like you. He has been known to try to bite.” Oh, yes, I remember both of their original rescue dogs. Of course, how could I forget them? They still have them. When we took care of the kids and the dogs for them when they were in North Carolina, I named one of them Adorable and the other one More Adorable.

 

Now that they have four dogs, I’m not even going to try to remember their names. So what if they have big hearts and lots of space. Can you imagine the veterinarian bills for four canine creatures? To suggest that someone has gone to the dogs doesn’t sound flattering. Well, it is what it is. I still don’t want one to call my own.

 

As it turned out, there was no altar call or any reference to our need for a dog when the movie was over. They didn’t even mention that my unbendable resolute demeanor was unfair to the General. As it turned out, my anticipated fear was for naught. The movie? Well the movie was a real tearjerker of sorts and then it took a turn I didn’t see coming. How about five reincarnations as different dog breeds and genders? Of course, in the end, the dog had come full circle and was back to his old tricks. Like I said, it was a real tear jerker with a surprise ending.

 

You’ll have to see the movie to know what I’m talking about. In fact, I need to recommend the movie to my brother in Oklahoma. This is an absolute must see for Larry and Kay both. They would absolutely love the movie!!! I’d suggest that Larry really doesn’t like dogs, but he is married to a dog lover and she isn’t as well trained as the General. He is stuck with two dogs whether he likes it or not.

 

I talked to the General last night and she seemed really pleased that I was getting an opportunity to visit with Craig’s family in their location of choice. Of course, she’s spent an inordinate amount of time in Cat Spring over the past year and is very much at home with it. I don’t guess I had realized it before, but back when I was working, my visits were simply drop-by “hi and bye” visits. This definitely feels better.

 

I’m very much at home here. The same is true at Andrea and Kevins. Forget getting an RV. That fantasy falls somewhere in the category of getting a dog. We could sell the house and go back and forth between our kids. It would ensure our golden years are golden and we wouldn’t have to do a thing but enjoy their home cooked meals and canine creatures. Oops, I just spoiled it. I think I’ll stay in my dog free environment and visit outside my comfort zone as often as I can.

 

All My Best!

Don

JOSH AND CAROLINE – A LOVE STORY

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We live in a world of bigger and better. I’m not complaining, just simply making an observation. After all, living in a climate controlled home has to be far more comfortable than living in one without. Technology being what it is, you can now manage the thermostat in your home from anywhere as long as you have access to the Internet and have the hardware and gadgets at home to make it work.

 

When it comes to high-tech, my son-in-law pretty much chooses to embraces it all. Why you need all that stuff, I don’t know. I’m pretty much my father’s son. He didn’t opt to purchase a car with air-conditioning until it was almost impossible to buy a vehicle without one. Of course, it just took his first air-conditioned vehicle to raise the standard to the point of no return. He would never have opted to buy another vehicle without air-conditioning even if it was an option.

 

Getting back to bigger and better, I recently read that the average cost of a wedding today is $35,000.00. If the General and I had needed that kind of money to orchestrate a venue where we both said “I do” and promised to love for the long haul, some might have questioned if it was really worth it. Actually, knowing what she now knows, the General might have said it wasn’t worth it. After all, I’m obviously a slow learner. We turn the corner on forty-nine years in two and a half weeks and even after all this time, I’m still a husband in training.

 

For whatever reason, the General refuses to give up or acknowledge defeat. I suspect her mother once told her: “Quitters never win.” She also told her: “Pigs don’t pick up after themselves.” I’ve heard that line on a multiple of occasions as part of my perpetual “how to succeed in marriage” training. Depending on the number of times I hear it in a week, it doesn’t always come across as gentle redirection.

 

Yet there is something about a love story that captures the imagination of even the most callous or hard hearted of men. “Love Story” was the title of the 1970 classic film about an upper class East Coast young man in college who fell for a quick witted college girl from a working class family. In the process of making it work for them, the boy’s father disowned his son because he was marrying “beneath himself”. After all, class distinction can’t be merged without forfeiture of some level of distinction or uniqueness that sets one apart. Despite the odds, love conquered all and the couple moved forward in happiness and harmony.

 

Sadly, it ended way too early when illness took the young woman’s life. In the closing scene, the father who had rejected his son rushes to the hospital to make some kind of amends. Hearing the news from his son that his wife died, the father, says: “I’m sorry”. The son remarked: “Love –Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. It was a memorable film and a memorable line. It was a love story indeed. Doesn’t that tug at your heartstrings?

 

Fast forward to 2004. It was another love story chronicled in the form of a book and a movie by the same name. “The Notebook” beautifully chronicles the power of love, even one-sided love. It is a movie that captures the essence of two stories. One where the young couple fully embrace every dimension of love and the satisfaction and fulfillment it provides. The other is a husband’s valiant and unfaltering attempt to connect with the love of his life even though she has lost the cognitive ability to reflect on what they once shared. Yet there are glimpses in the story of the older couple’s life when the wife seemingly remembers even for a fraction of a minute the connectivity of love. Even in the briefest of moments, it is enough for the husband who commits himself day in and day out to be there for her. It is a story of love. That, too, tugs at your heartstrings.

 

Most of you may be unfamiliar with the love story of Caroline and Josh. You may want to jot their names down. I suspect that in the years ahead the two names linked together could become as familiar as Romeo and Juliet. I used Caroline’s name first because it was her mother who shared her story…their story with me. The story lays out the details associated with her future son-in-law’s marriage proposal to her daughter.

 

The groom-to-be was undeterred by the interrogation provided him by the mother’s current son-in-law. The groom-to-be was found faultless. Even the current son-in-law agreed. He was welcomed by the bride-to-be’s family.

 

I suspect that the current son-in-law has no idea how the new guy on the block is going to raise the standard of what it means to win a mother-in-law’s favor. I say that tongue-in-cheek, even though they are not yet married. The groom-to-be could be pushing the envelope of “favorite son-in-law status” already. Of course, the bride’s mother would never admit that love has limits or that she could favor one son-in-law over another.

 

At any rate, Josh, the new guy on the block, is a man for all seasons. He brings to romance and thoughtfulness, what The Dos Equis Man brings to life. After all, the Dos Equis man didn’t get the distinction of being the most interesting man in the world because he was like every other guy. You know the drill:

 

  • His passport requires no photograph
  • When he drives a car off the lot, its price increases in value
  • Once a rattlesnake bit him, after 5 days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died

 

Let me tell you about Josh. In fact, he is good enough that I’m reordering their names (Okay, so I’m old school). This is the story of Josh and Caroline. When it comes to proposing, Josh raised the bar way over the top and established a new standard for all time. Like I said: “We live in a world of bigger and better” and Josh has all of that to his credit. He invested the time, organized the scenario, recruited the right volunteers to assist and never thought for a moment that Caroline would say anything other than “Yes”.   He was right. She did say, “Yes”.

 

When I tell you the story, I suspect you will agree. His attention to detail, his poetry and his organizational skills all-surrounding the big question: “Will You Marry Me?” are second to none.

 

It was a Saturday morning just like any other Saturday morning, except that Caroline was having brunch at a nice restaurant with her good friend Devon. She is the girlfriend that introduced her to Josh three years ago. When the waiter brought the check, he also handed a note to Caroline. She intuitively thought the waiter was hitting on her. After all, how many waiters hand a note to someone dining at one of the tables they’re serving? She had this guy figured out. He obviously was asking for her telephone number or providing his. Who would have thought?

 

The note was interesting, but it was not written by the waiter. The waiter was simply the messenger. The note was from Josh to his beloved Caroline. It included a poem about the two of them and an invitation for Caroline to embark on a scavenger hunt.

 

I told you the guy is a romanticist. He left instructions for Caroline to proceed to Top Golf, the location of their first date. The fact that they had a second date is some indication that for Josh it was love at first site. Whether knowingly or otherwise, Caroline showed up with her own clubs and demonstrated that her golfing game was better than his. Some would suggest that proper etiquette would have dictated she let the game go the other way, but competitive successful people have difficulty throwing a game for any reason. Perhaps that is one of many of the things that Josh values about Caroline? Either that or he wants an opportunity to go a second round?

 

Caroline is a competitive girl and a skillful golfer. At Top Golf, during the scavenger hunt, Caroline had to hit a certain target in order to receive the next clue.  The next clue was another poem making reference to the duplex that they gutted and remodeled, with a line about “how many trips to the hardware store does it take…”

 

Caroline is smart. She immediately connected the dots and headed to Home Depot.  There the manager presented her with a hammer with her name on it.  She had to pull a nail out of a board in order to receive the next clue.

 

She later told her mother: “Mom, that was really hard!”  The clue after that told her that she deserved to be treated like a queen and so she and her friend proceeded to the nail salon for a mani and pedi (your nails have to look good if you’re about to put a ring on it!)

 

The conclusion of the nail salon trip yielded a clue about going home.  When they arrived at home, Caroline thought Josh would be there.  Instead, there was a bottle of “JOSH” wine on the counter and the Monopoly game was out (their favorite game).

 

The Monopoly game contained a map with directions to White Rock Lake.  From White Rock Lake the clues became easier. I mean, how could you not notice a rose-petal strewn pathway? On the pathway, Knox  – their chocolate lab greeted Caroline.   Knox came running around the corner with a bow tie on and then led her to Josh who was standing on a picnic blanket with a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne.  He dropped to one knee…. and she said YES!!!!

 

The next day, both Josh and Knox woke up itching…. they had chiggers.  The only thing Caroline got at White Rock Lake was a ring!

 

The story of “Josh and Caroline” or “Caroline and Josh” is a story to remember. It is the love story of 2017.  Doesn’t that tug at your heartstrings?

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

I’m Not Going To Sit By The Pool And Eat Bon-bons

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If you find you have an aversion to jumping out of airplanes, it is probably best not to add skydiving to your bucket list. Profound statement, don’t you think? It was preceded by the thought: “What was I thinking when I gave up my day job?” My next thought was: “Is it too late to get it back?”

 

You know of course, I couldn’t make stuff like this up. I spent most of Friday working on my laptop from the sunroom. I’m finding the sun porch a perfect venue to get a sense of being outside while being inside in air-conditioned comfort. It is a very relaxing workspace and ideal work environment.

 

About 4:30 p.m., I moved my computer from the table I had been working on to charge the battery. I then went from the sun porch to my interior office. I had just sat down at my desk when the General walked it carrying a piece of paper. She tossed it on my desk while stating: “You left this piece of paper out there”. She then stated more emphatically: “I can’t have you just making messes around here.”

 

It actually was kind of comical. She wasn’t angry, she just wasn’t going to pass up a teaching moment. I felt like a three-year-old in Vacation Bible School. The nice lady was going to make sure I colored inside the lines.

 

The next round of redirection came when the General discovered I failed to move the bathroom rug from the floor to the edge of the bathtub after my shower. Another infraction of the rules! Who would have thought? Sometimes I can’t win for losing. I remember a time that we purchased expensive bathroom rugs to actually leave on the bathroom floor. Not any more, we are now duplicating a four star hotel with the bath mat carefully in reach, but not out flat.

 

God as my witness, I’m not making this up. It wasn’t ten minutes later that the General then asked: “So how is working from home working out for you?” I cheerfully responded: “It’s great! I don’t have to deal with traffic.”

 

So later, I left the house in my truck. The General and her mother were sitting on the sun porch. I had tossed a plastic garbage bag full of excess branches I’d pruned from the crepe myrtles in the yard into the back of my truck and driven it down to place them next to the canister for trash pick-up. When I returned she asked: “What have you been doing?” I answered truthfully, “I’ve been texting”. “You drove the truck to do that”, she asked. “No, that’s what I’ve been doing since I got back in the truck”. I then explained about the crepe myrtle branches. She immediately clutched at her chest and said: “Ethyl, it’s the big one! Not even a pacemaker can help with this.” “Very funny”, I said.

 

Actually, she is very funny. There is also a pleasant and playful inconsistency on her part. When I tossed my plastic empty water bottle in the trashcan located in our garage, I absentmindedly forgot the green bottle cap that went with it.  Like a hummingbird looking for nectar, she tracked me down. “Was that the green bottle cap from your bottle of water that you left on the table?” Before I had a chance or even the thought to answer: “No Ma’am, I’m sorry. I promise never to do it again”, she smiled and said, “If you’ll give me a hug I’ll throw it away for you”. Before the day was done and three hugs later I was out of trouble and beginning to think the retirement deal might work. That’s not to say there aren’t still looming questions. I’m still wondering: “What was I thinking when I gave up my day job and is it too late to get it back?”

 

Okay, so leading up to retirement my primary focus has been: “Do we have enough money in savings and does our monthly annuity and social security more than provide for our financial needs going forward? Thankfully, that isn’t an issue. Of course, my oldest grandson will be happy to know that. He is as frugal as my dad ever thought about being. Who know, maybe it’s in the name. They both share the same one.

 

I recently made some off-hand statement in front of my grandson about the General purchasing a new purse. I’ve mentioned in my blog that out of the generosity of my daughter and son-in-law, I’m a member of the Sock of the Month Club. Unknowingly, I think the General must have signed up for the Stash of a Month Club. Stash is the “Now” desirable brand if you collect purses and I promise you the General has quite a stash. She has a new purse every time I turn around. At any rate, I made some off-hand comment and William responded: “So granddad, are you concerned Gram is spending too much money on Stash?” The kid is really smart! He got it. Actually, I thought he had until he offered his take on the issue and finished his thought process. He said, “If you think Gram is spending too much money on Stash, maybe you need to stop buying a new car every 40,000 miles”.

 

I have a friend who truthfully confessed to me that following his retirement he really had a difficult time emotionally. He said, “I was like a fish out of water”. He went on to explain that he had only looked at financial affordability and had not stopped to consider the emotional impact. With the loss of his job, there was nothing immediately available to replace his career identity.

 

According to Robert Delamontagne,PhD, author of The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement: “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active. Some retirees ease smoothly into retirement, spending more time with hobbies or family and friends. But others, research finds, experience anxiety, depression and debilitating feelings of loss.”

He went on to say: “People can go through hell when they retire and they will never say a word about it, often because they are embarrassed”.

 

Trust me, I am not that guy! If retirement doesn’t work for me, I will do something else. I promise you I am not going to be content watching reruns of Gunsmoke and the Andy Griffith Show on television. I don’t plan to wear my pajamas all day or sit by the pool and eat bonbons. For one thing, we don’t have a pool and secondly, the General doesn’t want me eating a lot of candy.
All My Best!

Don

 

Extra Grace Required

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Ours was a strange conversation yesterday afternoon. Sometimes the General amazes me. Actually, I’m not sure “amazes” is the right word, but I’m better off not changing it. At least I’m affirming a strength-based attribute. The General was out of town all week. For that matter, I was also out of town the majority of the week myself. So out of the blue she said to me yesterday: “I noticed you changed the burned out light bulb in the kitchen”. I should have said “thanks” and left it alone. Instead, I truthfully responded, “No I didn’t”.

 

She replied: “Maybe it came back on.” Frankly, that didn’t sound like a logical deduction to me. Of course, short of suggesting that the tooth fairy is now doing nice things for old people, I didn’t have a better explanation.   I’m certainly not an electrician, but I’ve never known of a burned out light bulb resurrecting itself. With fluorescent tube lights, sometimes an adjustment of their placement orchestrates a fresh connection but the canned lights are not fluorescent bulbs.

 

The thing that took me totally off-guard was her next statement. God as my witness, I am not making this up. I am telling the truth. She said: “I noticed another light bulb looks like it is going out?” Was she clairvoyant or what? I’ve never thought of the General as particularly strange, but how can she tell by looking that a light bulb is near done?

 

I guess when it comes to light bulbs, I’m a black and white kind of guy. The light is either on or it’s off. It glows or it doesn’t glow. If the filament is burned out, it doesn’t come back on. If a light bulb is providing light, how does she know it looks like it is going out? Obviously the answer to that question, if there is one, is above my pay group.

 

From there, our conversation got even weirder. She asked the question: “Why is there a gallon bottle of water in the refrigerator?” I responded: “To my knowledge there isn’t one.” Out of curiosity, I reached for the handle of the refrigerator and opened the door. I tell you, the lady is losing it. There wasn’t one there. She responded, “Not that refrigeration. It’s the one in the laundry room.”

 

I made my way to the laundry room and looked inside the refrigerator. Sure as life, there was a gallon jug of water on the shelf where we normally store smaller bottles of water. I was almost speechless. The gallon jug of water was not sitting upright. It was turned on its side. I didn’t check to see if it had been opened. It really didn’t matter. I have no explanation of how it got there.

 

Saturday morning as I made my way home from Round Rock, I telephoned the General and asked if I needed to get anything from the grocery store. She asked me to pick up a prescription for her at the store pharmacy. Knowing we were out of bottled water, I asked, “Shall I also pick up some bottled water?” She replied that she was compiling a grocery list, but if I’d go ahead and pick up water she be grateful.

 

Consequently, I stopped by the store and picked up a couple of 24-packs of bottled water and four gallon jugs. I put them all in the back of my truck. When I unloaded the truck a couple of the gallon jugs had turned to their side. Was it possible that I carried one into the house and put it in the refrigerator on the shelf where we normally keep smaller bottles of water? “Probably not” is my best response, but I have no other explanation. After all, I did purchase water at the grocery store.

 

I moved on to other matters. I needed to hang pictures I had removed from my office. I had temporarily placed the four of them next to my chest-of-drawers in our bedroom, but extra grace would be required if I thought they were going to stay there for any length of time. Truthfully, it would make me a little bit crazy to have them propped against furniture. The General isn’t the only OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) person in our house.

 

The art collection from my office was tied to an American Indian theme. A couple of the pictures are large prints done by G Harvey. I don’t recall the artist of the other two, but they are also large. Finding a place to hang them was going to be tough. I wanted them all hung together. In my mind, they would be perfect in our bedroom. The room is large and we’ve got a couple of chairs with cowhide backs.

 

The only downside to my plan is that the General had already told me they wouldn’t all fit in our bedroom. I thought she was wrong, but I could be mistaken. If I moved some of the pictures from the top of the bookshelf and put a couple of the larger pictures there, it might work. After all, our bedroom has a cathedral ceiling. If need be, I could go up really high with the pictures. The only problem was the pictures are relatively heavy and I don’t have a stepladder that will get me up as high as I need to be to safely hang the pictures.

 

Fortunately, the General was engaged in something else for a portion of the afternoon and I had time to execute my plan. Actually, with two of the pictures hung and an existing painting moved, I was convinced my plan would work. I removed the stuff including a picture from the top of the four bookcase units in our bedroom and managed to get the other two pictures propped on top of the bookcases. I then asked the General to come take a look. She liked the look and made a couple of suggestions related to the pictures propped on top of the bookcases. She thought they looked good sitting on top of the bookcases rather than hanging higher on the wall. The height of the bookcases are seven feet tall. Maybe she was right.

 

She suggested I add a large piece of pottery between the two pictures. She thought it would add some extra interest to the grouping. I actually thought it was a good idea. We could both be wrong, but we think it looks great.

 

If you were to ask, the General would tell you that I’m not OCD. In fact, we had a conversation regarding her perception that I need to do a better job of picking up after myself at some point in the day yesterday. Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise! Something tells me my retirement years may be challenging. I’d hate to be put on probationary status, but from the sounds of things she’s already thinking of a corrective action plan.

 

Besides that, who knows how many routine responsibilities she is going to slide to my side of the table. Just for the record (that’s the way she phrased it), she put me on notice that she was handing off to me the responsibility for keeping the grandfather clocks wound. She added, “I’m not going to windup the grandfather clocks again. From here on out, it is your responsibility.”

 

This retirement gig may be a challenge. I should have asked for a job description before I announced my retirement at work. At this point, it is too late to change the process, but I’m not big on surprises when it relates to additional expectations related to my assigned tasks. Of course, with the American Indian theme pictures in the room, I might opt to explain that I am now the new Chief on the reservation.

 

All My Best!

Don

DEATHTRAP

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She didn’t express it out loud, but she might as well have.  Her first impression was not favorable.  Did I mention that never plays out well for me, especially when I can read her mind and know what she’s thinking?  We could not have been farther apart in our perception of reality. I saw it one way and she conversely saw it differently. I thought it was the perfect solution.  She saw it as a perpetual nightmare. Like I said, “She didn’t articulate the word, but it was on the tip of her tongue. The word was “deathtrap”.

 

I didn’t see the Broadway Play by the same name, but Deathtrap is a play written by Ira Levin. The play holds the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway. Aren’t those two words linked together a contradiction as well?  Who knows? What I do know is that the General had a high opinion of the “Murder She Wrote” series on television. Perhaps lurking beneath her pleasant demeanor is a dark side that she protectively keeps hidden. Obviously if that’s the case, it has worked well in my best interest. Otherwise, I could be a memory rather than a reality.

 

The play Deathtrap was subsequently adapted for a movie in 1982.  I didn’t see the movie either. Robert Ebert gave it a three-star rating.  He referred to it as: “A wonderful windup fiction with a few modest ambitions: It wants to mislead us at every turn, confound all our expectations, and provide at least one moment when we levitate from our seats and come down screaming.”

 

Around 11:00 a.m. yesterday, I suggested to the General that we leave early to attend the wedding of the daughter of a close friend. We needed to arrive about 5:15. The wedding was scheduled to begin at 5:30.  Consequently, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to solicit the General’s opinion of the car I wanted to purchase.  She concurred with my plan but added: “Weren’t you going to grill steak for lunch today?” 

 

“Why not” was my immediate thought? It wouldn’t take that long and there is nothing I like better than a New York strip cooked medium rare. Consequently, I started the charcoal. We could still carry out my plan if we hurried, but if not, “There would be another day”. Actually, that is not what I thought at all.  They say that delayed gratification is a sign of maturity. Maybe that explains why I wanted to get her feedback soon. I didn’t want to wait.

 

I got the fire started.  When the coals were just right, I put the two steaks on the grill. I came back into the house for the broccoli and bell peppers.  She said, “I’m doing them in the oven. I also have leftovers from a potato casserole”.  It was going to be a really good lunch. I was grateful she mentioned to need for lunch before we left the house.

 

I subsequently noticed after I turned the two steaks over on the grill and came back into the house that she was cooking something else on the stove.  “What’s that I asked?” She responded: “I don’t want steak. I’m having this?”  I don’t know if “this” was chicken or something else, but I was grateful for the two steaks on the grill.

 

Like I’ve often said, “The General and I don’t always look at the world through the same lenses.”  It is not that infrequent that I see it one-way and through her “perfectly accurate vision” she sees it another. 

 

When we subsquently stopped by the car dealer for me to show her the Mazda Miata, it would have been an embarrassing moment had the salesperson overheard her candid assessment.  “You want that?!”  It was not a favorable review.  The next words out of her mouth were equally unfavorable: “It looks like a toy car.  There is no way you can possible get in and out of that.”

 

I had test-driven that car two-days before and was still “feeling my Cheerios” from the thrill and exhilaration of the experience.  She on the other hand was looking at the vehicle and reinforcing her belief that only a mentally deranged individual would even consider having one, much less shelling out the cash to get it.

 

Her review wasn’t totally negative. She liked the color.  Okay, so now we were making some progress.  The car I had looked at in Houston was that color.  It wasn’t the hard-top convertible, but the soft-top is still a classy look.  For the most part, when I think Miata convertible, I don’t envision a hard-top. You drive a convertible because you want the top down.

 

Okay, so part of my decision-making relates to cost. There is absolutely no difference between the 2017 soft top and the 2016 soft top. In fact, in 2016, the hardtop option wasn’t available.  Depending on where I choose to purchase, I can save $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000 off of the purchase price if I opt for the soft-top. I bet you can safely guess which option I will choose.

 

The General doesn’t think the way I think.  First she retorted: “I didn’t get anything when I retired”. I opted not  to say, “You didn’t retire. You just quick working.” See, I’m smarter than some of you give me credit for being. The unspoken question behind the General’s sad story about not getting anything when she was retired is: “How fair does that seem?” Now I want to celebrate my retirement by purchasing a car she is firmly convinced that I cannot get out of without assistance. Did I mention she doesn’t plan to offer me a helping hand? Secondly, if I’m going to do it anyway (and she’s convinced I will), it has to be the hard-top version.  Like I said, she liked the color of the car.  The hardtop is that same color.  Otherwise, with the soft-top we are back the standard black canvass cover.

 

We hadn’t driven a mile from the dealership before she said: “That car does not have a safety rating.”  “How do you know that I asked?”  She replied: “I read it on the sticker”. I didn’t look directly at her. I didn’t want to see her smirk.  Like I said, she thinks it is a deathtrap. I see it as hours and hours of fun driving. Only time will tell, but …. I’ll let you come up with what you anticipate will be the outcome.  I have an opinion. What is yours?

 

All My Best!

 

Don

Whose To Blame?

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“I don’t have time for this”. Have you ever had that thought? Whenever I have an opportunity to speak in public, whether it is for thirty minutes or two, I want a carefully crafted road map. Call it a security blanket if you want. I never read a verbal presentation to an audience. That seems inauthentic and lacks spontaneity. However, in a perfect world, I never open my mouth if I have a verbal presentation that I’m expected to make without first carefully crafting every word.

 

If I am in an audience and the speaker fails to make eye contact and be engaging because he is carefully reading a prepared text, just count me out. You’ve already lost my attention. I was in a church once where the pastor read all of his sermons to the congregation. Maybe it was just me, but it didn’t come across as authentic or heart felt. Besides that, his sermons were always too long. Actually, they were way too long. I wanted to scream, “Just give me the script, I can read faster than you can talk.”

 

I’m not sure where all of that came from, but it highlights my point. The only folks who enjoy being read to are small children who want to hear the same bedtime story over and over again. By adulthood, most of us have moved way beyond that.

 

Craig called at the end of the workday yesterday and wanted to know what I was doing. I answered, “I am at home, but I am at work. I’ve been asked to provide testimony at a legislative hearing on Monday morning and I need to get my speaking points to the two lobbyist who are representing our group before the end of the workday. I’m almost finished, but I have time to talk.”

 

I actually was almost finished and I felt pretty good about the flow of my presentation. It was only three pages long, but three pages with a number #14 font was all the time afforded me. That was another reason to carefully craft my thoughts. At any rate, the conversation Craig was sharing would have been of interest to his Mother, so I summoned her from outside where she was playing with Andrea and Kevin’s dogs. I put my phone on speaker and the three of us engaged in conversation.

 

Okay, it was “my bad”, but the conversation moved from interesting to small talk mostly generated by the General who was doing all of the talking and so I half listened as I attempted to finish the last paragraph of my presentation. I honestly don’t know what happened, but the entire script disappeared from the computer screen. It was gone, vanished, lost; how could that be? At this point I was no longer half listening to the conversation.

 

Of course with the maturity level of a three-year-old who had just spilled an entire package of M&Ms in the mud because he wasn’t paying attention and wanted someone to blame, I was put-out with the General and Craig for the disappearing act of my document on the screen. I recognize that they clearly had absolutely no involvement in my circumstances, but with the maturity level of a three year old I needed someone to blame.

 

Who knows, maybe the document would be retrievable? It wasn’t. Oh, I found the document, but the document I found didn’t include any anything but two paragraphs that I had written at 11:47 a.m. Did I mention I found that despicably unacceptable? I turned the computer off and restarted it. Do you ever pray for something knowing full well it is magical thinking or a wasted effort? Okay, so I selfishly prayer rather than being led to pray. Either way, the result didn’t get me anything other than the two small paragraphs written at 11:47 yesterday morning. “I don’t have time for this” was my first, second and final thoughts before I started again on the missing third and subsequent paragraphs.

 

The General was amazingly kind. She knew I was miffed at her and Craig for no reason, but she was compassionate. Even the “When are your ever going to learn” speech she provided was bathed with an undertone of compassion rather than, “How stupid can you be?” She kindly dispensed or refrained from using the line, “How many times do I have to tell you.”

 

I really am a slow learner. By the way, reference to the “How many times do I have to tell you” phrase reminded me that I haven’t yet saved this document. It may be mostly nonsense, but it is my nonsense and without saving it, it too could join the ranks of yesterday’s missing document.

 

Yesterday evening I received a text message from a friend who’d read on Facebook that my niece’s home was destroyed by fire and is months away from being anywhere close to habitable again. She kindly wanted to help and asked for my niece’s mailing address. She also offered the opportunity for me to simply stop by and she’d provide me a check to take to her. What an amazingly kind gesture.

 

I felt guilty declining to stop by her home. The previously promised visit with she and her husband is long over due, but this isn’t the week. I will be sitting in front of this computer screen for much of the weekend preparing work related documents for next week which includes the hearing at the Capitol on Monday and by being in Houston and Washington, D.C. for the rest of the week.

 

“I don’t have time for this” is like being between a rock and a hard place, but it won’t last forever. The General would be the first to suggest that eliminating my daily blog would buy me some time, but you can only bend so far without breaking and I’m not willing to go that far.

 

All My Best!

Don