Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trunk Treasures

I dragged my old trunk of personal memorabilia out of the closet this past week. I wanted to see if there was room for more. There was, especially since I pulled some of Wendy's stuff out of there. She can get her own trunk.

One of the first things that caught my eye was this post card from a college buddy of mine. Our mutual interest in chess is what brought us together initially. Our friendship has continued to the present day though we haven't played chess in decades. This post card documenting his latest move in our correspondence chess friendly is almost 30 years old. Chris mentions that he likes our new baby (Greg is 28 years old now with a "kid" of his own).

Chris has three grown children of his own though not with the wife mentioned in his signature line. They divorced.

This is a Beatles coin commemorating their trip to America in 1964. I have no idea where it came from or how it got into my trunk. Didn't know I had it. I do like surprises like this though.

Here's the oldest thing in my trunk, a card announcing funeral arrangements for my wife's grandmother. Note, no zip code. Also note the price of the stamp. One cent! Oh how prices have gone up since 1934.

Yes, this is my baby book. Browsing quickly through it, I learn that I got my first tooth on December 1. There's not much else in here though. Getting my first tooth was obviously one of the more key milestones worth noting.

Ah, now here is a true treasure. This is the Ann Arbor News edition published after Michigan beat MSU in a triple overtime football game back in 2004. I watched the game with a bunch of my nephew's friends at his bachelor party in Bay City. Memorable day, made all the more so since my nephew is a Spartan fan ; )

Here's a handmade birthday card from my son Scott. I should have put a date on this but it's evidently from a long, long time ago. Reminds me that Scott had a job interview today; some outfit flew him into Virginia from New York so it sounds serious. He even had to do a writing assessment. Hopefully, his spelling has improved though really he only misspelled one word here.

Though all this has sentimental value, I doubt that it has any real value. But I still have to caution any potential future heirs not to just throw it out when I pass away. According to E-Bay, that Beatles coin is worth a couple bucks in itself. That Ann Arbor News newspaper should be worth at least that much.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Watching Granty Grow

"I'll sit here with my little man near, we'll listen to the radioBidin' my time and watching Scotty grow."

Many of you probably recognize the line there from Mac Davis's song, a popular hit for Bobby Goldsboro way back when. Funny, but I don't remember Wendy and I bidin' our time watching our children grow up that much. And we even had a child named Scotty!

Way back then, other issues commanded more urgency, whether it was career, home improvements, shopping, friends or family. And the impatience of youth interferes as well.

You're anxious for your baby to graduate to the next stage whether than involves sleeping through the night, feeding himself, potty-training, whatever. Sure, we spent plenty of times with the little ones doing various activities, but that's all lost in the maelstrom of life's other activities

Now, Wendy and I don't have to worry about career or furthering our education. We're settled in a home that has probably seen most of the improvements we're going to make for now. Shopping isn't important. So now we can have weekly visits with our grandson. "Biding our time and watching Granty grow." Hmmm, not the same.

So some observations thus far . . .

Whenever he comes over, our grandson has this dour expression as though the weight of the world lies upon his shoulders, even at three months. Wendy can pry a smile from him easier than I can. If I bounce around the floor, barking like a dog--which I'm doing in the picture below--he'll smile for me.

But that doesn't bode well for his opinion of where grandpa sits on the evolutionary scale.

One impression I have already is that Grant follows in the footsteps of his dad and his grandfather, me. He's not much for listening to conversation, much too easily distracted by the picture on the wall, the color of the ceiling, and the lights in the room. He seems to regard lamps with special fascination. Very short attention span overall. I keep telling Wendy that part of the reason I lose focus of what she's telling me is genetic. I have short attention span genes. Maybe Grant will help prove me right.

Our grandson does like to share with us his tales of woe, sadly cooing and whimpering, combined with the occasional squawk. What weighs so heavily on him is a mystery to us. If his Boston Terrier brother Simon is nearby, Simon will come over and give him a few licks. Apparently Simon believes the cure for infant distress of any kind is generous amounts of dog slobber.

I tried to upload here a video of Grant as he awoke from a catnap in his grandma's arms. Uploading the video didn't work but the link does. You can see our grandson manage a faint smile when he realizes who's holding him.

Later, Grant fell asleep in his grandma's arms again. Then his father came home and awoke him with a series of jabs and pokes--toughening him up, dad said. Disturbed from his slumber, our grandson awoke with a scowl, looked up to see his dad's face and . . . BIG SMILE.

Now why can't he do that for us?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Double Takes

With spring temperatures finally settling in here in Michigan I took my trusty, old Schwinn out for a spin (hea, rhymes) on Sunday. Always on the lookout for stray coins, or maybe even a bill.

Found on the ground, found on the ground, I'm just a fool for found on the ground. [Sung to tune of "Pants on the Ground" from American Idol fame]

Did a double take when I spotted the above bill in the grass. A twenty? Wow! But something seemed a bit strange about it. I'll leave that for later.

Anybody do a double take with the price of gas lately? It's $3.90 here in Michigan and climbing.

I did double takes and triple takes on my taxes this past weekend, trying to find the loophole that would leave the IRS owing me instead of the other way around. Didn't happen. Can you deduct expenses related to blogging? I'm desperate.

A friend of mine works for H.R. Block. She's a part-time tax professional and very busy this time of year. I asked her a question about student loan interest--if both spouses filing a joint return have student loan interest to report, is the $2,500 limit then doubled?

She said there was no limit to how much student loan interest you could deduct? Really. I suggested she do a double take on that regulation. She did. Turns out I was right, she had been doing it wrong with her clients. Makes you wonder about H.R. Block.

When I was in Ithaca recently I did a double take on a building across the street from the diner where we were enjoying breakfast. It formerly housed the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) but now some other government entity that assisted veterans occupied the premises. And somebody had removed the V from the building, leaving only the FW.

Considering that this was Ithaca, a liberal college town, does anyone think that somebody vandalized the building to reveal their own anti-war sentiments? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, here's a double take on that $20 bill I found (see picture below). Doesn't look too legal with a real $20 right behind. Maybe I could tell the bank that it was out in the snow all winter and shrunk. I'll have Wendy take it to the bank and pass along that story. Or I could mail it to the IRS and declare that's what inflation and taxes is doing to my income. Shrinking it!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Whenever Wendy and I travel, we like to sample the regional cuisine. So this past week when we journeyed to Ithaca to take our son Scott back to college, we hit a seafood restaurant. Since we're out of Michigan and closer to the east coast, I figured we could get fresh fish that isn't lake perch or whitefish (not that either is bad though).

The feature that day was arctic char. That sounded deliciously exotic. I don't think I'd ever eaten fish from the arctic. And I wasn't even sure what a char was?

I was prepared for a feast. And a gourmet feast at that since this char was being served with pomegranate sauce and fingerling potatoes. Sounds very "Top Chef" to coin a favorite phrase of mine and Wendy. I let Wendy and Scott finish off the fresh-baked bread with dill butter, tasty though it was, so I would have room for the char and potatoes.

Turns out that wasn't necessary. My portion of char was about the size of a large hamburger patty and came drenched in very sweet pomegranate sauce. I'm still not sure what char tastes like. Maybe salmon. But I can certainly tell you what pomegranate sauce tastes like.

And the fingerlings? More like fingerettes. Very tiny potatoes. My grandson Grant's fingers would look gargantuan in comparison to the fingerlings I ate though Grant's only two-months old. So a great feast it wasn't.

On to Amish country in Berlin, Ohio where Wendy and I made a brief shopping side trip on the way back. I made sure we had breakfast at Boyd and Wurthmanns restaurant in downtown Berlin--"where the locals eat."

The special that morning was "fried mush with tomato gravy." Hmmmm. I passed. Arctic char with a little pomegranate sauce, excuse me, pomegranate sauce with a little arctic char was culinary adventure enough this trip.

What piqued my interest was the list of fresh pies available for dessert. There were about twenty varieties including raisin, elderberry and peanut butter. Then there was 'brown bag apple pie' and 'ground cherry pie.' You really have to be a pie baking afficionado to know what they are. A gourmet baking co-worker did. But my wife didn't. Do you?

I didn't try the pies, afterall it was breakfast. But I did sample the extremely tasty peanut butter at our table. Would I love to take this home. We bought a jar of locally made Walnut Creek peanut butter at a nearby store but it just wasn't the same.

Was almost tempted to swipe the peanut butter server off our table but how would that go over here in a religious enclave where restaurant menus include a meal blessing and the television in the public lobby of your hotel is tuned to a revival?