Family & Friends

Lil’ sister’s Birthday Balloon is free…. free at last!

What was supposed to be another of my wonderful home videos turned into, as far as I’m concerned, pretty much a complete disaster this morning. It couldn’t have been much easier to accomplish the simplistic goal for the video, but the results were shameful.

It all started exactly two months and one day ago. It was my birthday and my little sister showed up at the house with a couple of birthday cards and something else that in my 74 years I’m not sure I had ever gotten, one of those gas-filled birthday balloons that everyone is surely familiar with….

Birthday Day Balloon - 2 Months Old(Click to Enlarge)

The balloon of course had a small weight on the end of the ribbon tied to it so I placed it on a large table I had there in my den. That was about the extent of the hoopla over the balloon at the time and we moved on to the reading of the birthday cards.

Now, after about a month had passed that little old happy birthday balloon was still flying high over the table I had put it on there in the den. I was somewhat amazed because I figured it would have been out of gas (no pun intended) and lying somewhere on the floor by then. I guess it was at that point that the balloon seemed to take on a life of its own.

A balloon who could hang in there and still be flying high after a month…. well, that was my kind of balloon. I guess you could say we became roommates of a sort after that with me checking on his well-being almost every morning. As my balloon mate began to approach the two-month water mark here recently, I decided that this little balloon deserved much better than to be shuttered in this old house with this old man for the rest of its life. It was time to set him free and let him live his life from that point on to the fullest. He had done his job where I was concerned and had surely fulfilled his monetary worth for little sis.

So I decided that I would turn him lose one morning in the next few days on a nice day with calm wind and I would also video the event. But over the next few mornings the weather never cooperated and then this morning the weather seemed to be perfect. But instead of letting my balloon mate go in the backyard I decided to do it up right and take the balloon to our nationally acclaimed city park, Burns Park, and set him free from there next to the grand old Arkansas River.

And so it was that the planned release was accomplished and my balloon mate soared to the heavens and hopefully is still aloft and doing well. Unfortunately, my attempts to capture the event on video went terribly amuck or should I truthfully say, the videographer was the one that went amuck. Shortly after the balloon was released I lost it in the camera’s viewfinder, just briefly at one point catching a glimpse of the balloon going around the back of a tree and then I could never locate the balloon again in the viewfinder. I could see the balloon rising away in the distance find but I couldn’t find him using the camera’s viewfinder. The very few seconds of the disappointing video that I did get are documented below….

Well, needless to say I was pissed but at least I got a shortened version of his release to a well-deserved freedom. Right at the end of the video it may have appeared the balloon was perhaps hung-up in the tree but no, it was just behind the tree and still rising. In the end, I actually remained totally amazed that the balloon remained inflated and fully functional for exactly one month and 23 days before receiving its owner declared emancipation proclamation and subsequent freedom…. 🙂

Brother-In-Law, what are they good for?

You know, for as long as I can remember it’s a known fact that when we talk about extended family the infamous “mother-in-law” has always topped our list of conversational topics and mostly gotten a bad-wrap to boot. There are certainly some beloved mother-in-law’s out there but we mostly hear about the mother-in-law from hell. But given my most recent birthday, I have given considerable thought to what is considered the standard norm when it comes to talking about individuals who are members of the extended family.

Now I have two brother-in-law and we all seem to get along fine when in each other’s company, or so I thought. In fact, I have always assumed that we actually enjoy each other’s company. However that assumption came to a screeching halt recently with the advent of my birthday.

Now you have to understand that my two brother-in-law don’t play golf together or have lunch with each other from time to time or just in general hang out together in any form or fashion. So I found it somewhat disturbing when I got birthday cards from each of them which were almost identical when it came to the birthday card’s cover art and subject matter. Now, either it is one of the most profound coincidences ever or they are both “ass” holes, to coin a term I was able to derive from the creature depicted on the cards I received. The damning card cover’s are shown are below….

Randy’s Jackass 2
Vergil’s Jackass 2

Of the hundreds of humorous cards that are on the market, what in this universe would have been behind such an unfathomable coordinated event? Astrologically I am a Scorpio but at the moment I feel like someone has bitten the tail off my scorpion. They think I’m a jackass?

Well, so be it I suppose but I must surmise that when I attend future family get-togethers or join my sisters and their husbands for dinner out… there will be a palatable chill in the air courtesy of this jackass brother-in-law as reflected in their loving birthday greeting! 🙁

Do you remember that very last time?

My little sister recently questioned me as to how I remembered some of the old personal stories I have related on my blog over the years. I’m actually not sure why I do remember, even remembering some of the finer details of those events in my life. I think it must have been because they were part of the really happy times of my life. I also remember a lot of bad times in my life in the same manner but those are moments I choose not to tarry in or share on my blog, regardless of their nature and/or entertainment factor.

Memory Loss - 02As I have gotten older, especially in the last few years, as appreciative as I am that even at age 74 my memory has kept itself fairly intact, I have realized that there are things that I have forgotten that were of some consequence in my life, at least from my perspective. I’m single and have been for over 30 years so my life experiences and the things my life revolves around will certainly be different from others, especially those who are married or were married for most of their lives. Also I have no children so that also plays a huge role in those memory moments I relate to in this post. Some of those moments I refer to were things that brought joy and pleasure, other moments not so pleasant and best left to their blissful demise in the halls of the forgotten.

The majority of things I “don’t do” any longer that I use to really like to do have been tabled for the most part due to health issues. As we all know health issues themselves certainly vary from person to person, especially as we become elderly, but I think for the most part it is those issues that drive our cessations of those things we enjoyed doing otherwise. Many of those things were just some of life’s little pleasures that make this life worth the living. Simple things usually like taking a walk in a park or riding a bicycle.

But there comes a time in those contemplative moments we often have with ourselves that we realize those mostly little things that were so important to us in living our lives are gone and what seems to make it worse is the fact that we can’t remember for the life of us when the last time was that we even had the pleasure of doing them. That is in fact what this post is all about.

Below is a list of some of those things that I refer to above that were part of my life, things I enjoyed doing but no longer do that fit into that unfortunate category of forgotten final moments….

The last time I went hunting in the woods….
The last time I went fishing….
The last time I made love….
The last time I rode a bicycle….
The last time I went to a movie theater….
The last time I sang or played in public….
The last time I sang or played in private….
The last time I put on a pair of roller skates…. (Probably around the year 1986)
The last time I went bowling….
The last time I danced with someone….
The last time I went out on a date….
The last time I smoked a cigarette…. (I use to know but have since forgotten)
The last time I played golf…. (I remember where, North Hills Country Club, but not when)
The last time I went swimming….

Perhaps I could go on for a bit longer but if just to make a point, I think these from my perspective fill the bill. There are other final moments and their associated dates that we do indeed tend to remember such as the last time we saw our mother, or our father or perhaps other deceased loved ones. On the other hand, there are many of us who had beloved pets in our lifetime and find that except for the pet itself which was so very special, we remember little else about them.

Memory Loss - 03It’s worth noting I think that these ‘last time’ moments of our personal lives are normally something that won’t be brought to one’s attention at the moment they’re happening. With regard to most of these things, you will never be conscious of the fact you are doing something for the last time. You will just wake up one morning and realize that there is something you use to do that you can no longer do, for whatever reason, and that memory of the last time you did them is gone. You know there was that “last time”, you just don’t know when it was or perhaps even where it was or who it was with.

I guess for the record these type events in our lives would be best referred to as the ‘milestone’ dates of our individual lives. They are the dates that are for the most part, only important to us and have no consequence whatsoever on the lives of others or the fate of the world. They can, on the other hand, be the seeds of depression if we treat them with more importance than they deserve. When we get older and are fortunate enough to be able to retire that is often when the stark reality of those lost pleasures tend to have their greatest impact. There is a point in our lives when we become less and less able to do the things we use to do. We may recognize that point when it happens but it’s only later, often years later, when we reminisce about those things that we actually come to the realization that we don’t remember the last time we did them.

So if you find yourself approaching those elder years and you are a person who likes to keep close tabs on the milestones in your life, you might want to start jotting down on those calendars the when and wherefore of those little things you love to do that make this life worth living just to have the satisfaction that you “will remember” the last time you did them…. 😕

The Mater Man….

Featuring “The Mater Man Song”

Tomatoes - 05Somewhere down in Elmore County, Alabama legend has it that he still roams the hills and hollers of that county looking for hallowed ground to once again lay the seed of his beloved tomato plant. Some say they’ve seen him, others have said they’ve only smelled him but were the truth to be known, no one knows for sure. There are two mysteries that still seem to haunt the Old South, one is the illusive Sasquatch and the other, the Mater Man.

Thinking back now on how it all started I recall it was around 1988 and I had recently been transferred to a General Electric Lexan Plant located a few miles from Montgomery, Alabama where the company I worked for was doing some modification work at that plant. What was great about that assignment was that my best friend whom I had worked with for a number of years had also been transferred there, which was a real plus for him since he was from the area. His name was Jimmy and he and his family had a really nice place with some acreage in a small little village called Santuck, about twenty or so miles from Montgomery.

Now Jimmy loved tomatoes and decided that spring that he was going to raise some tomatoes on part of his land. Well, when it was all said and done, he had put a piece of land in tomatoes about the size of a football field. When I asked him what the hell he was going to do with all those tomatoes when those plants started producing, his response was, “We’ll give a few of them to family and friends of course but the large majority of them we’ll eat.” I could only cautiously nod at his response while continuing to harbor my doubt.

Tomatoes - 04

Well when the tomatoes came in, as luck would have it he had by all accounts a bumper crop. They produced and produced, and then they produced some more. Can you imagine a family of five with a football field of tomatoes getting ripe on the vine? He ended up an undeniably big mess but for me it was a joy to watch and a source of unlimited humor. And he was eating tomato sandwiches for weeks at work. But to the point of this post…..

I decided I needed to try and write a little musical ditty in an effort to immortalize my friend and his tomatoes. Musically speaking, I had everything I needed to accomplish that project including a pretty sophisticated tape recorder that allowed me to lay down multiple tracks which allowed me to sing along with myself and over-dub up to four different tracks so I could get fairly fancy with my creation. I also decided that rather than writing a new melody, using the tune for “The Banana Boat Song” would do perfectly for my project. So it was that one particular Saturday I sat down, wrote some words for my ode to Jimmy’s tomatoes and recorded the song which I have posted below. Perhaps for your listening pleasure – perhaps not!

(“The Mater Man Song” – featuring Alan Ginocchio)

Well, as I understand it now, the recording has become a family heirloom much to the dismay of Jimmy. Oh, he loved it, but you would never get him to admit it. It’s rumored that the following year that his wife had suggested he plant some of those giant sunflowers in lieu of tomatoes. Now I’m not sure how much land he put into sunflowers that following year but again rumor has it the Atlanta Braves and a host of the southeast United States minor league baseball teams had gotten their summer stock of sunflower seeds for that year from a secret location somewhere in Elmore County, Alabama.

I’ve seen Jimmy a few times over the years since then and he doesn’t seem to want to talk too much about his days as a part time farmer. He did confide in me that he still loves tomato sandwiches but I did notice during our visit that he was continuously spitting out sunflower seed shells. I understand that this there is a serious pumpkin shortage this year and pumpkin growers are hoping for a better year next year. I suppose I should suggest to Jimmy the possibility of putting his land in pumpkins this upcoming year but I really do hesitate to do so. You just know once I do that, Halloween will just never be the same…

What’s wrong with this picture?

A couple of weekends ago I went over to visit with my older sister and her husband. Now during my visit she happen to mention that our younger sister had come over to her office one day that week and picked up a bag of home grown tomatoes. You see a couple or three years ago they began planting a vegetable garden in a small area of their backyard and began raising a few different types of veggies and my sister, whose quite the cook, even started canning a lot of them.

And I should mention that according to un-named sources, the little foot-tapping country ditty posted below is what she plays the whole time she is in the kitchen canning…

(“Homegrown Tomatoes” – Guy Clark)

Below are just a couple of photographs my sister has posted on her Facebook page this summer showing off their harvest and some of her canning projects….

Sisters Home Grown Tomatoes(Click on photograph to Enlarge)

I then mentioned to her while we were sitting there talking that I would like to get a few home grown tomatoes myself if they could spare them. My brother-in-law almost immediately got up and went out to their garden to apparently harvest me a few of those scrumptious tomatoes.

Now at this point perhaps some of you are thinking well what a nice brother I must be for showing off my sister and brother-in-laws veggie horn-of-plenty on my blog. And obviously how proud I must be of them… right? Well no, that’s not exactly the point I wanted to make.

As I was leaving my sister handed me a small plastic zip-lock bag noting that they hoped I enjoyed my tomatoes. My brother-in-law noted that a couple of them were still a little green so I might want to give them a day or two to ripen a little more. I then thanked them of course and left.

Needless to say as reflected in the photograph below, I was a little taken back by my sister and brother-in-laws generosity when checking out my presumed tomato bonanza. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the quarter seen in the photograph was put there just to put a perspective of the sheer volume of the vegie bounty that was shared with me.

My Tomato Bounty(Click to Enlarge)

I need to remember to do something really special for my sister on “National Sibling’s Day” next year. You know what I mean….? 🙁

Little sisters seem to never get older….

Dear Diary…

My little sister turned ‘sixty’ this past week and I think I was more in shock over it all than perhaps she was. Obviously whoever was doing the calculations on her newly acquired age really needed to take a remedial course in math. Sixty years old? No way! My little sister will always be my little sister and even today when I look into her face I still see my little sister.

Little Sis 01(Little ‘Sis’)

Little ‘Sis’ is 13 years younger than I am so it’s obvious why she is and always will be my little sister. We are both definitely too old for me to play the “tickle monster” any longer but I doubt either of us will ever be too old to remember the love we’ve shared over the years.

Little Sis 02(Me & Little Sis)

Introducing my friend…. Little Eddie

Over the past year or so I have cultivated a great friendship with one of my canine neighbors who lives next door. His name is “Eddie” but so as to not confuse him with a much more famous “Eddie” of the same breed I’m sure most are familiar with, I call him “Little Eddie”.

Little-Eddie-02(Little Eddie – Click to Enlarge)

My friend Little Eddie is a Jack Russell terrier and I have found out recently that he is around 12 years old. Based on dog years, that makes him about ten years older than me. So that turns out to be actually good. We’re just a couple of old codgers that like to hang out together and enjoy each other’s company.

Now if you are a dog person to any degree and know anything at all about dogs, then you probably know that a little dog like Little Eddie with his breed’s heritage is keen on chasing and catching little critters and rodents. Since Little Eddie doesn’t appear to get a lot of exercise and is not able to work off his stored up energy, I decided to pitch in and help a friend out. At any rate, at our age we could use the exercise although admittedly these days Little Eddie is getting a whole lot more exercise than I am.

Just about every morning around 9:00 AM or so I can look out my back window and there is Little Eddie sitting out by the fence waiting for me to come outside. I’d like to think his waiting is all about wanting to see me but I have a sneaky suspicion it has something to do with the little game we like to play most every morning while it’s cool out. We call our little game ‘Critter-Gitter’.

I have attached a short video showing a bit of our typical morning routine. In the beginning of this particular video Little Eddie tries to patiently wait for me to get things ready to start our game but not without a little anticipatory pacing. Then he begins his duel with our make believe critter although I’m not so sure how ‘make believe’ Little Eddie views it. It appears he may have gotten tangled a bit in the ivy vine on the first toss which seemed to cause him a little concern, perhaps thinking the critter had gotten a hold of him. There are times when he seems quite sure of having things under control and then other moments when he quickly backs off. But I can’t help but smile for the five minutes or so we play. I figure at our age, about five minutes of intense excitement is about the limit for either of us.

When we get through, Little Eddie will watch me intently as I put away the fishing pole and then sit down on the patio to enjoy my coffee. Once he realizes the day’s game is over, he will go around to the other side of his house and get some water, then return a few minutes later, lays down next to the fence and just stares into space. You just know what he is probably thinking, “I am going to get that little critter one of these days!”.

Got any of those awkward family photos?

Thursday night on the NBC Nightly News their closing segment featured a photographic exhibit which was opening in Santa Monica, California at the California Heritage Museum. You can see the brief video newscast segment by clicking ‘here‘. The exhibit was featuring a number of photographs from Mike Bender and Doug Churnack who own a website called “Awkward Family Photos” which they had begun back in 2009. They began posting a few of their crazy and awkward family photos on the website and it eventually grew exponentially as other folks begin sending them their awkward and silly photographs.

Most all of us like these type photographs and up until this news story Thursday evening I wasn’t aware of the website so I thought I would post this today in case there might be others who would be interested in this photographic humor.

Looking through some old photos I could only come across a couple that I thought might fit the subject category. In the photo below my dad has just returned from an all-day duck hunting trip and has fared fairly well. My mom took a few photos of my dad with his ducks but then what kid wouldn’t want a piece of the action. So I got to hold all the dead ducks with the exception of one. My sister just had to join in so she got her own duck. I have to admit without sis and her duck, this photo would have just been ordinary…

Judy & Alan(Click to Enlarge)

In the photo below as usual I am doing all I can do apparently to ruin what would otherwise be a nice family photo but my antics obviously do not go unnoticed by one of my uncles sitting on the couch…

Tarver Family(Click to Enlarge)

Perhaps some of you can fare better with those awkward photographs than I but if not, you can always go to the “Awkward Family Photo” website and get an ample supply. 😀

My aunt just had a vasectomy but she’s doing fine….

Medical-Terminology-for-Dummies

Why is it that medical terms often seem to border on some type of a foreign language, at least for me? I was recently reminded of a rather humorous incident regarding medical terminology that occurred many years ago and thought I would share that here today.

I have never been one who has been on top of the latest medical terminologies at all. Just not something that seems to find a sticking place in my brain. I can go to the doctor and then the next day I can’t remember one medical term he had used in talking to me about any of my medical issues. Same way with medications, as much as we hear about acetaminophen in pain killers these days, I had to actually look it up on Goggle to add it to this sentence. I just cannot retain medical terms.

So to my little story…. and to try and make a long story short, my mom and dad had been divorced for a number of years at the time and my dad had remarried and lived in a town located some 150 miles away from Little Rock. I didn’t see him all that often, especially since I was well into my thirties at the time and was usually working out of state.

At the particular time of this incident he had come to Little Rock for knee or back surgery and the surgery had been performed in a local hospital. I was in Little Rock at the time and went over one evening to visit him in the hospital. We were pretty much engaged in small talk when he asked me how my aunt Edith (my mother’s sister) was doing.

Now my aunt had been dealing with breast cancer and had been having a pretty rough go of it to say the least. She was not doing well and eventually opted for breast surgery and had seemed to have somewhat stabilized after the surgery for a period of time.

Now my dad knew my aunt had breast cancer but was not aware she had had surgery. So when he asked me how my aunt was doing I immediately responded that she was doing much better and had just had a vasectomy. My dad immediately got a strange look on his face and asked, “What?” I of course repeated myself immediately thinking he may not have heard me or was simply concerned, “She just had a vasectomy – but she is doing fine.”

Well, he pretty much looked like a deer caught in someone’s headlights when all of a sudden it hit me what I was saying and I immediately cried out, “Oh… I mean mastectomy!” Well my dad started laughing so hard I thought they were going to have to come in and put him on life support and I was really embarrassed. I mean really, really embarrassed.

Turns out that when the account of the incident got back to my aunt she just thought it was absolutely hilarious. One of her sons who was at the time a practicing physician caught wind of it and found no humor in it what so ever…. 🙁

The Geo Metro Casket….

Geo Metro

Things are definitely looking up when the time rolls around for me to finally take up residence in Cemeteryville. That’s due to a breaking story in the national news this morning. I have always had a deep seeded desire to be buried, not in a casket, but rather in my little blue Geo Metro. Both my sisters are fully aware of my wishes in this regard and up until today that was pretty much all they were – wishes!

But as of today, thanks to an 82 year old Harley biker in Ohio, I may be a step closer to the fulfillment of that goal. A new trend has been set! The man’s family in an effort to fulfill his last wishes had him buried sitting atop his beloved Harley Davidson, enclosed in a Plexiglas constructed coffin. Here are a couple of photos from the funeral. Click on the photo to see a larger view….

Buried on Harley 1
Buried on Harley 2

And a plus for me in my situation, I would not have to have any kind of an enclosure constructed since I would already be ‘inside’ the Geo. They would just have to make sure all the windows were rolled up. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!