Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I Were A Frog

You should be able to see in the picture above a frog, partially buried in the wet sand and within a hop of a nice clear pool of Lake Huron water. Since the temperature here in Michigan has soared tortuously close to fire and brimstone levels once again, all I can say is . . . smart frog.

Wouldn't it be nice to be a frog and just lie here half-covered in wet sand the whole day? Then come out to sing, make froggy love and catch flies all night. Rock on, frog. Who's to bother him, except maybe the occasional snake.

Speaking of rock on, I took this picture when Wendy and I made a planned trip up north to my parents' cabin. I was hoping for a nice, peaceful weekend disturbed only by the wind and the rustle of deer foraging in the nearby woods.

Instead, I was surprised when our beloved neighbors, and I say that with the utmost sarcasm, began setting up for a big birthday bash. So instead of the pastoral sounds of wind, woods and water, we heard bad karaoke at rock concert decibels at three in the morning.

Wendy said the young lady who crooned "I Am Woman" at that early morning hour sounded like a sick cat. I would have preferred a chorus of frogs myself.

On the way back from the north country we stopped and visited my parents to exchange news and gossip. My mother recounted how earlier in the week she heard the terrified screams of a young woman. Peering through a window, she and my father saw their neighbor lady sitting atop her car. Not atop the hood, but all the way on top of their car.

So my dad went out to investigate and as he drew near the young woman, who was sobbing rather uncontrollably, he saw the woman's husband desperately trying to console her, even warning her that their neighbor was approaching to check on the commotion.

What had happened to terrify this woman so? She spotted a snake in their yard. Ordinarily, snakes in Michigan are almost always of the non-poisonous variety, so they're not really that threatening. I guess, unless you're a frog.

Maybe she was having one of those "if I were a frog" moments too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


We've had a house guest for the past several days, he of the big eyes, big teeth variety. No, not the big bad wolf. It's little bad Simon, my son's Boston Terrier. Greg and his wife Lindsay were on a road trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a short vacation.

And I'm kidding when I call Simon bad. He has mellowed much from his delinquent youth when he attacked and killed a rabbit in our backyard, dragging its carcass inside our house and traumatizing our pampered poodle who witnessed it all. No longer does Simon go out into the backyard with the attitude, "Hmmmm, what can I kill today?"

Now he's content to lie outside, sunning himself. Of course, he'd rather you be out there with him, working in the yard. Then, if you're clipping or pruning, Simon might acquire his most cherished toy, a stick. "Get the stick" is his favorite game.

It's a variation of "fetch." Except that once Simon retrieves the stick, he doesn't give it back. So the game becomes "Get the stick back." He'll come over and lie down tantalizing close to you, tempting you to reach for the stick. If you do, then he pulls away, trots a few steps in another direction, then lies down again to chew on the stick some more. If you try again to get his stick, he casually gets up, trots off, and lies down again, just out of reach. It's a dog thing.

Sometimes with a flash of sleight-of-hand, I can grab the stick. But I have to be careful because sometimes Simon's bite is just as quick. Ouch!. It's an accident, I know, but our old dog Doogie was a lot more sympathetic when he accidentally bit me while we were playing. He'd be like, "Omigod, I don't believe I did that to you. I am so, so sorry" while giving me please-forgive-me doggie kisses.

If Simon accidentally nips me, he gives me this deadpan expression as if to say, "What do you expect when you put your fingers so close to my mouth."

For indoors, we bought Simon another of his favorites, your garden variety squeaky plush animal. They don't last long usually. It's like a Simon version of a Sidoku puzzle with the goal being to rip the squeaker out of the toy. Then the fuzzy animal becomes as unwanted as last year's Christmas toy.

Wendy gave Simon one of these plush toys when he first arrived early Thursday morning. By the time I got out of the shower and downstairs, the squeaker was out, with the $5 plaything ripped almost to shreds. So I bought him a squeaky rubber ball. He loved it. Wanted dearly to destroy it. But I would let him play with it only a few minutes at a time, then I'd take it away and put it up.

Simon was distraught he couldn't have his toy. He lay for long stretches on the carpet next to the piano where I'd put his ball. He'd cry. When he wasn't looking I took it in the other room and hit it behind my back while I sat in the recliner. If I'd put a pinch, the ball would squeak. Simon hurried over, staring at me, checking behind my chair, jumping into my lap, looking for his ball.

I would also set it up where he could see it, but couldn't get it. Can't get the ball, eh. Just like I couldn't get your stick, eh Simon! How do you like it, huh? You know what they say about paybacks, Simon?

Heh, heh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finally A Cool Breeze

Somebody finally turned down the temperature here in Michigan, from broil to simmer. Hope it lasts.

Another sign summer is nearing an end . . . our number two son Scott is headed back to school. Not back to Ithaca, N.Y. and Cornell this term, but on to Washington DC where he is going to intern with Congress for the rest of the year. I'm not sure exactly what he's going to be doing, but it has to do with enacting that health care reform that just became law. If I hear that we're better off moving to Canada or Cuba or something, you'll read it here first.

At least he made it there fine, unpacked, and even managed to find his way back to his apartment when, while trying to reconnoiter his Maryland neighborhood, he was swallowed up in beltway traffic around our nation's capitol. He navigated back to his apartment using the position of the sun along with locating a famous landmark near his apartment, the Washington Redskins football stadium.

Speaking of football, another sign that summer's near an end is the re-emergence of our family fantasy football league. Wife Wendy already chose the order for Scott's Detroit Rock City league and I have first pick in this year's draft. Go Mock Draft Bloggers! That's my team this year.

What else is on my mind here . . .

Haven't talked about my job lately. In fact, I hardly ever talk about my job here, lest somebody at work stumbles across my blog. But here's a couple things I found a little, well, amusing for lack of a better word.

Much of my job involves checking the accounting work of others and making sure the dollars and cents match up. My colleague likes to describe he and I as forensic accountants, forensic as in CSI. But without all the crime, drama and sexy women.

I had to deal with a returned check recently in which the dollar amount written in numeric form didn't agree with what the checkwriter wrote in the text portion of the check. The difference was about fifty dollars.

But what was amusing is that the check had a NASCAR theme with a blurb below the endorsement line that said "So many laps, so little time." Hea, when it comes to writing a check correctly so that it is not returned by the bank, TAKE THE TIME! Sheesh.

Also interesting was a refund done at one of the sites under my purview. The staff there was supposed to refund several thousand dollars to a client's personal credit card. But instead, they ended up charging the cardholder several thousand dollars instead. Errors like that are understandable, right? NOT! At least to me, not.

Anyway, the credit card holder, who I might add is a respected member of the our justice system, was understanding about it. The mistake was reversed and the cardholder was credited, though not until a few weeks had passed.

Then the site received a call from the client, stating that the correction had not been done and that malfeasance surely must be afoot. Very upset. I received a call from the harried staff supervisor asking me to double-check to make sure everything was fine on our end. It was.

As the supervisor stressed about what to do next, she received a call from the cardholder's husband. Whoops. They missed the correction. It was done properly after all. Everthing's fine.

Whew. Just another day at the office. Thank goodness for cool breezes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grandpa Dave?

Well, not yet but soon, God willing. My daughter-in-law Lindsay is pregnant and due next February with who would be mine and Wendy's first grandchild.

So I've known about this impending blessed event for some time. But only recently did I get permission to blog about it. Husband-to-be was first to know, then over the course of days and weeks parents and other immediate family, then extended family, then Facebook and extended friends, and last BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST . . . my blogging buddies.

My wife actually knew before I did. It was Wendy's birthday and the party was wrapping up. I thought I heard Lindsay say something about "one last gift." She and husband Greg were in our sunroom while number two son Scott and I were watching TV in the family room.

Then I suddenly heard Wendy shout very excitedly something to the effect of, "Are you kidding?" I thought she had scratched off one of the instant lottery tickets I'd given her and won $10,000. She was that excited. Seriously.

What actually happened is that she opened a present that held a Michigan "onesies" outfit. It took a few seconds to sink in (was Simon the dog going to get a canine brother?), but she's been smiling ever since.

When I informed my own mother, I thought too that I would be a little vague and see how long it took her to catch on. During one of our regular long distance phone calls I casually mentioned how I recently was riding backseat next to a one-year-old, keeping her entertained and "practicing my grandpa skills."

"Lindsay's pregnant?" she cut in. No fooling her at all.

Greg said with a little one of his own, he might have to film his own home movie skits and build spookhouses in the basement, hearkening back to the days when he was a kid and I was the movie producer and spookhouse builder.

Now it's his turn. He can take his kid trick-or-treating next October. He'll be, what, eight months old? Is that old enough for candy? It's been a while. I don't remember.

But I'm sure there's a "Grandparenting for Dummies" book at my local Border's. Good Christmas gift.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Scary Campfire Tales

I'm always up for a good ghost story. "Scary" has been my middle name going back to when I was a kid. So when my extended family gathered for a party up at Hubbard Lake this past weekend, I was ready when we gathered around the night-time campfire to swap tales of the supernatural.

First, we got permission from my great-niece Jocelyn who at seven years of age might be frightened enough to have nightmares.
"Just as long as they're true ghost stores," she replied. That's my kind of kid.

Coming up with true personal tales of contact with the unnatural might be more difficult, but not overly so. In fact, we shared quite a few.

I recounted how I felt the tickle of fingers running along my back as I slept in a bedroom occupied at one time by my dead grandfather. My brother Tim recalled his encounter with a bat while he was alone one night in our aging, creaky two-story family home.

Tim said he heard the door to the basement open, then close again. Next thing he knew a bat was flying about him. He fled the house in a panic and had he not been tackled by a neighbor, might still be running today.

My favorite was my sister Sue's story of how she was doing laundry in the basement of our aforementioned family home. As she was taking the clothes out of the washer, she heard the unmistakable sound of a chair moving across the kitchen floor upstairs, as if somebody was taking a seat at the table.

Unnerved to say the least, Sue breathed easier when she remembered that our dog Missy had a habit of jumping up on our kitchen chairs. Our dog must have taken a bigger jump than usual and had moved the chair himself. But when my sister turned around, there was Missy sitting right there in front of her.

My nephew's wife Melissa trumped all of our stories, however, with her tales of ghosts sitting on beds, shadowy figures that chased her up stairways and electronic appliances that took on lives of their own.

How did all this affect Jocelyn? Well, first she plugged her ears. Then she began to hum to herself. Finally, I heard to go "Bla, bla, bla, bla" with her hands over her ears.

But she claims she slept well that night.

P.S. After arriving home, my son Scott who watched over our humble abode for the weekend, reported hearing footsteps running inside our house. Later, he also reported that his bed was shaking. Great. Trading stories around a campfire is one thing, but thinking that you might need an exorcist is a whole different can of worms.