Update 3-27: Let’s Get This Done!

by Greg on September 30, 2016

Okay, so my original plan was to write one update for every month I missed during my writing hiatus. But seeing how I can only sit down once every week or two to write, I’ve come to realize that I will remain in perpetual catch-up mode for the rest of my life if I don’t hurry this along.

So, out of a desire to “live in the now,” I’m just going to blast out 25 quick and quasi-pointless blurbs about the last 27 months of our lives so we can move on to bigger and better quasi-pointless blurbs.

In no particular order…

1. Our adopted dog from Turkey sadly passed away. We miss her dearly.

2. Fire engine Perry was sold and shipped to Chicago after getting a repair quote of $4,000. Proof that love does have a price.

3. Kamryn saw a barn cat at her grandpa’s farm. Said cat is now tormenting Kamryn’s other previous finds right here at home.

4. Heather’s health continues to be our primary concern and we’re now 0-10 with specialists finding a cause or a cure.

5. An appointment where my wife’s endocrinologist made remarks about her “brittle hair,” “ashy skin,” and some unintelligible mumbling about her face has created a treasure trove of post fodder.

6. After knee surgery where I was told I have no more cartilage left and am now bone-on-bone, I made the difficult decision to quit playing basketball.

7. I missed basketball too much so I started playing again.

8. The knee pain was too great so I quit playing basketball.

9. I went to visit the rec center where I once played basketball and the shine of the court coupled with the squeaks of the sneakers led to me calling my wife and having her bring my gear. I once again started playing basketball.

10. After being unable to walk for two straight days without knee and hip pain, I finally decided to quit playing basketball.

11. I’ll be back.

12. During a vacation to the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia, we happened upon a black bear while wandering through the woods. Gripped with fear, we cautiously passed despite Kamryn’s boisterous Oooo’s and Ahhh’s. He was too busy eating to care about us. We think it was another hiker.

13. Our cool cat, Rick James, lived a short but charmed life.

14. Our minivan held on as long as it could, but with 258,000 miles on its weakening frame, we traded it in for a Chevy Surburban. It is, by far, my favorite vehicle to date. We can actually fit the entire family inside AND bring things with us.

15. Kamryn has made it her mission to memorize all 32 NFL teams based on cities and helmets. I must admit, I’m a little bit misty-eyed.

16. After a rough start in his freshman year, our eldest son has made the Dean’s list ever since and is now in his senior year. Proof that effort and threats CAN make a difference.

17. Michael is still…Michael. He saved up 35,000 pennies to buy a huge full-size mascot outfit of some Pokemon named Lucario. He proudly walks around town in it. It’s only a matter of time before someone playing Pokemon Go captures him.

18. Kamryn has followed in Heather’s cleated footsteps and found her passion in soccer.

19. We started a bubble soccer business where people gladly pay to get crushed by one another.

20. I successfully convinced Kamryn’s entire elementary school that my real name is “Superstar.” I love when they call out my name when seeing me in public. Now to work on the rest of the world.

21. I went full-on Keto to try and trim down. I lost 40 pounds and started to hit the gym on a daily basis. I’ve since resumed some of my bad eating habits but purely from a reward standpoint. I’ll be back.

22. We went to the shores of North Carolina in the middle of summer in the middle of the day and, for the first time ever, I never once got a sunburn. It’s probably my finest accomplishment.

23. Heather and I realized that our last “date night” was three years ago. She won’t let me count childless trips to Wal-Mart.

24. Heather continues to serve on the school board and has been added to numerous committees, such as the “I Won’t Be Home For Dinner Committee,” the “This Should Only Take An Hour So I’ll See You In Four Hours Committee,” and the “Committee to Form More Committees Committee.”

25. Earlier this year, I had bought a taxidermied black bear on a whim at an auction. I later added a female mannequin to create an artistic piece I like to call, “Bear Naked.” Heather isn’t nearly as in love with it as I am.

bearnaked

 

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Update 2 of 27: We Bought an Ewok

by Greg on September 20, 2016

Updates will become more frequent now because I need to get this blog more current. Alas, here is another promised update from my 27-month hiatus.


 

After the theatrical remake of 101 Dalmatians in the late 1990s, there was a mad surge in Dalmatian “pup”ularity. Countless families brought home the spotted canines only to realize that the breed needed diligent obedience training (something Americans aren’t great at) and a high level of exercise (something Americans are even worse at). The end result was a mad surge in Dalmatian abandonment and subsequent pushes for rescue.

The same phenomenon happened after Finding Nemo, which caused a massive spike in clownfish popularity to the point where reefs were pillaged at perilous rates and aquarium-housed clownfish died in record numbers due to the highly specialized care they required.

Even the animated movie, Ratatouille, led to a 50% increase in rat sales. Turns out, people didn’t want them as pets, but rather as sous chefs. And once people realized that rats brought nothing to the kitchen beyond Bubonic Plague, they were given a one-way ticket to the New York subway system.

All this in mind, it’s no wonder that the iconic film, Return of the Jedi, led to a dizzying boost in Ewok popularity. Poachers descended upon the forest moon of Endor and bagged up satchel after satchel of unsuspecting Ewoks for the open market. In typical “history repeats itself” fashion, the care, attention, and oversight they required were too much for people to take.

Ever the ones with a soft spot for abandoned or unwanted animals, Heather and I agreed to take one in. The family was moving out of state and were already burdened with a dancing penguin, a lemur with a God complex, and a panda with a penchant for martial arts. There just wasn’t enough room in their Mystery Machine to take him along.

They called him Cooper, or Coop for short, which happens to rhyme with what he does most. The thing about Ewoks is that they’re pretty much untrainable. For centuries they had lived peacefully in bands of harmonious tribes until the white men came. Despite the fact that these white men couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with their laser pistols, they were overridden and had to find a way to adapt. This kind of struggle for survival breeds independence, and here we’re asking this little creature to go outside to poop? Our audacity was almost embarrassing.

You can’t really ascertain this from the movie, but Ewoks are actually quite stupid. I’m sure each tribe has its fair share of Einsteins, but the one we got isn’t one of them. It’s proven to be a challenge, so I’d like to extend a PSA of sorts for anyone considering taking one in.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get one with a brain.
I’m sure there’s a lobe in there somewhere that can handle simple requests, but we have yet to find it. Instead, we try to dumb things down a bit based on his visual cues. You’ll know your Ewok is confused if he cocks his head to one side when you speak. In our case, it happens if we say anything high-level, like “Sit” or “Stay” or “Cooper.”

ewok

They growl…at everything.
This is one attribute I do remember from the movie but I also remember it being a lot cuter then. Perhaps because it only happened once. If a living or non-living thing happens to cross an Ewok’s field of vision, it will trigger an involuntary and completely unintimidating growl. If you tell the Ewok to stop, he’ll turn to look at you, cock his head, and forget all about it. Until such time that he turns his head back around and sees the object for what he thinks is very the first time…again.

They don’t worship droids. Or you.
Contrary to the scene in the movie when they cower at the sight of a levitating C3PO, Ewoks bow to no one. Nor do they sit. Or stay. Granted, if you say “Sit” enough times, he’ll eventually touch his rear end to the ground, but it’s only due to exhaustion.

They will absolutely lose their shizzle if they see a dog.
Imagine seeing a gigantic human-like form approaching you on the street but you knew it wasn’t human. Would you freak out? Same goes for Ewoks when they see something approach that looks like a lab experiment gone wrong. This is when you’ll finally get to hear the elusive Ewok battle cry. For those who haven’t heard it, it can best be described as a blend between a Barn Owl’s shriek and a bronchial T-Rex. Should this happen, just smile nervously at the dog’s owner and casually explain it away as a rabies infection. Ewoks can’t get rabies so I think he’ll appreciate the joke.

They’re picky eaters.
Gone are the days when you could tie up a few Rebels and enjoy a hearty BBQ. When you place any morsels of food in front of your Ewok, he’ll look at the dish, look at you, and then look at the dish again before slowly walking away. This will only happen after he engorges himself on a sample of the most expensive food you can find. Once you buy a giant bag of this same food, he’ll completely lose interest.

Veterinarians won’t know what to do with it.
Most veterinarians aren’t familiar enough with Ewoks to provide proper guidance on their care and behaviors. Instead, they’ll try and treat your Ewok the same way they would a dog, but I’m not about to embrace that trend. I know what I have here, and it’s no dog. Humans already took away their independence, I’m not about to take away their identity as well.

They’ll love you unconditionally.
Quite honestly, we’re glad he’s here. Ewoks are lovers. They’re gentle with kids, playful, aloof, and habitual cuddlers. They’re vigilant in their protection of their new home and will go completely bat-shizzle to warn you of approaching UPS trucks, squirrels, and gently overturned leaves. They’re kind, they don’t shed, and let’s face it, they’re just plain cute.

Sure, the evil Empire disrupted their lives, but having the Ewok population here on earth is the silver lining. And like others in the Ewok Rescue community, we’re going to do our part to create a little piece of Endor right here on earth.

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Update 1 of 27: We Bought a Submarine

by Greg on September 2, 2016

This is the first installment in what will be a 27-part update of the last 27 months of our lives since I’ve been away from the blog. By the time I’m done updating, I’m sure another 27 things will have happened in the meantime, but hey, it’s a start.


 

If you happened to read my blog back when it was alive, you probably remember the time I bought a fire engine to Heather’s “delight.” Oh, and then there was the giant Yoda. And a full-height arcade dart machine, a lamp made from a giant turtle shell, Vegas slot machines, and a variety of other eye-rolling purchases.

I’ll take fault for the turtle lamp.

While it looked really cool, the heat from the lightbulb started to bake whatever hadn’t fully decomposed, filling the room with a combination of burnt tortoise and rotting carcass. Needless to say, we let it cool before selling it to another unsuspecting collector of oddities. If you’re in the market, check Craigslist, it’s probably up for sale by now.

Keeping in line with my stellar track record of amazing thrift buys, I had the opportunity to purchase a real life submarine, and I couldn’t help but jump all over it. It could fit 8 people comfortably, it came fully equipped with radar, and it enabled us to cruise the lake in style.

It actually looked a lot like a boat. So much so that I wasn’t even aware it was a submarine until our marina called to say it had descended to the lake bed.

See, I thought boats were supposed to float. Like, all the time. Not just some of the time. But ours had channeled its inner Red October and nose-dived to the silt and seaweed below.

The day before its demise, Heather and I were having a rather depressing conversation despite the sunset surrounding us on the lake. We’d been through quite a bit personally and we didn’t see the noose loosening any time soon. As we sat in the bobbing boat while the children swam off its deck, I told her in an almost quivering voice that I took comfort knowing we at least had *this* to provide. At least the boat could bring us some stress-free enjoyment and an escape from the struggles on the shore.

In almost twisted fashion, this source of joy, this bastion of refuge, was sitting vertical at the bottom of the lake by sunrise.


Look kids! A boat! Now you see it. Now you don’t!

Apparently, the bellows (a fancy boating term that means “suck-ass part”) sprung a leak. As the water rose, it triggered the bilge pump (boat-speak for “temporary”), and the invading deluge was cast back into the sea as fast as it came in. But because the leak was constant and the battery life wasn’t, the bilge pump eventually stopped working. From there, the water took over and the ensuing weight was too much for the ropes to keep hold.

Snap!

Pop!

Whoosh!

Glub.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a silver lining kind of guy. I can find optimism in almost any situation. Here, I had TWO silver linings to keep our spirits up. Then one. Then…the death knell.

1. “At least we can salvage what was in the boat.”
Hahaha! “NO!,” bellowed the snarly woman of the sea. “You shall get NOTHING!”

See, we had a cover on our boat submarine. The cover held. All the way down to the bottom, the cover performed just as designed. With the exception of the part about keeping water out of the boat. And gas. And oil.

When the boat went down, the oil and fuel mixture that streamed from the engine became trapped beneath the cover. The end result? Everything was coated. Ev-er-y-thing. Over $1,500 in equipment and towables were lost.


2. “At least insurance will cover it.”

Hahaha! “NO!,” bellowed the snarly woman of the insurance company. “You shall get NOTHING!”

See, our policy doesn’t cover what they deemed to be a mechanical issue. Had our boat hit something or had we been hit, it would have been covered. Had a hurricane gobbled us up, it would have been covered. Had a satellite dropped from the heavens, cracking our bow, it would have been covered. I believe we even had a wormhole rider in case we traveled to another dimension and sustained hull damage in the process. But mechanical? They twisted their way into the denial. I tried explaining that our boat DID hit something…it hit the bottom of the lake…but she was unmoved. We lost both the claim and the subsequent appeal.

Alas, our submarine now rests on the shores of the marina. A mere $3,500 away from limping back into the sea from which she came. But right now, we have more pressing things to spend our money on.

Like, food (our kids like to eat on a daily basis).

And clothes (the schools around here have a silly dress code…”show up dressed”).

And, Oooo! What’s that? A turtle lamp?

And turtle lamps.

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It Wasn’t You. It’s Me.

August 30, 2016

Boy, a guy takes a mere 27 month break and suddenly he’s alone in the room? I must say, I’ve missed you all. I’ve also missed writing, but oddly enough, only recently. Over the last 2+ years, the burning love I had for this place slowly dimmed, until one day the flame simply extinguished. No […]

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T-Bawl Season

May 3, 2014

Our daughter Kamryn, who just turned six, had her first T-ball game today. And it was every bit as adorable as I thought it’d be. After a grand total of 51 at-bats among all players, her team lost 27-24, victims of a smaller roster. In her particular league, every child gets to bat, every child […]

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Cat Pimp

March 21, 2014

It’s probably odd to make my return with a post about pimpin’ but it makes too much sense to ignore. Just don’t go stealing my idea. Our 5-year old daughter Kamryn likes to watch a show called “Too Cute,” which is essentially an infomercial for puppies and kittens. If you ever find yourself on the […]

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In a word…Zikomo!

December 1, 2013

Well, it’s been two months so I figured I should probably write a post. And what better way to break back into the world of blogging than to share the end result of our Flip Flop campaign. Thanks to your generosity and thanks to you embracing our project, we were able to provide every single […]

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With Apologies to Cashews and Almonds…You’re Nuts

November 30, 2013

Earlier today I was given a link to one of the more enjoyable, funny, and sarcastic posts I’ve read in quite some time. It focused on the growing obsession over being politically correct in all facets of speech and communication. Ironically enough, the post wasn’t intended to be funny OR sarcastic. It was definitely enjoyable […]

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Blog Star: A Parody for Bloggers

November 23, 2013

Time for another blogging parody! I was inspired to write this particular song after having my Guest Speaker application rejected by a blogging conference I had previously attended as a panelist. It made me realize that while I enjoyed writing and had a small yet loyal following, I was a virtual nobody in the blogging […]

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Walk a Mile FOR Their Shoes

July 1, 2013

It’s time to pay the piper. Me, of course, being that piper. But I don’t want it for me. I want it for the Flip Flop campaign my wife and I have organized for the Children’s Village we support in Malawi. Over the past several months, I have done dozens of blog tweaks, security updates, […]

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The Five Stages of Orphan Cat Ownership

June 3, 2013

Vet bills. This is the fallout I forget about when fostering my wife’s favorite hobby, pet harvesting. If she weren’t so compassionate and caring, we’d have far less dander in this house. But because her heart behaves like some maniacal co-pilot struggling to take the controls away from her brain, we have a stockpile of […]

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I Love Naked Ken

May 24, 2013

I look forward to Christmas every year. Next to Thanksgiving and the mystery surrounding that lying little rodent on Groundhog Day, it’s my favorite holiday of all time. I just need to remember to avoid Facebook this coming season. If you were on Facebook at any time between December 1st and Christmas Day then you […]

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Kitty Cat Warfare

May 11, 2013

As many of you might remember, I had made an agreement with Michael and Kamryn that if they could go two weeks without fighting and misbehaving, we’d get them a kitten. [See: Kitty Cat Countdown] And, as you can see from the picture below, there are now three furry little balls of curiosity chilling on […]

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In Remembrance

May 4, 2013

Today we gathered at the church to celebrate my mother-in-law’s life and say our collective goodbyes. I was asked to write and deliver the eulogy, which I felt was a tremendous honor. I had hoped I’d be able to do her justice and was so touched by everyone approaching me afterwards to say that I […]

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Do You Have 28 Blogs That You Want To Self-Servingly Promote? I’m Your Ho!

April 30, 2013

Okay, not really, but I must be giving off the vibe that I’m so desperate for blog content that I’m willing to take MY time to post THEIR linkbait without ANY compensation whatsoever. How else can I explain the constant stream of media johns approaching me every single day? Does this approach really work? Is […]

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