Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guess The Movie

[Today's blog contains allusions to a popular holiday movie. See if you can guess what it is]

We're having the first real snow of the season here in southeast Michigan. Glad I'm not some wild critter stuck out in the cold. But on the other hand, better out there than in here.

Just this week I heard the pitter patter of something running above our family room. Must have been on the roof. Rather, I HOPE it was up on the roof. I asked Wendy if she heard it and she said she didn't. That figures. I think her hearing is going. Lately she couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitro-glycerin plant.

Anyway, I just heard a critter running. My friend Bob wrote to tell me of his own harrowing adventure. He tells it best in his own words here . . .

"Big excitement yesterday was discovering I had a squirrel in the house. The dog kept me up most of the night wanting out and whining, both uncharacteristic. I had no idea what was up until just before leaving for work I saw a squirrel make a mad dash into my bedroom.

I needed to leave for school just then so I closed the door and took the afternoon off to come home and deal with it. After buying a trap at Lowe’s and some nuts at Wal-Mart the squirrel was nowhere to be found. Around dinner time I saw the dog make a mad dash across the family room and the squirrel went flying.

The dog had it cornered eventually behind a small chest freezer but there was no way to get at the squirrel. Moving the dog away drew the squirrel out and a mad chase around the house ensued. Eventually the squirrel ran into the kitchen and I grabbed a pair of jeans hoping to gather him up—seemed silly at the time too but they were handy. When I got into the kitchen I saw mop and pail in the corner, dropped the jeans and grabbed the pail.

At that point the squirrel started up the stove. I hurled the pail across the kitchen knocking the squirrel down, the pail fortunately bounced back to me and I was able to drop it over the squirrel as it skittered across the linoleum floor. Fifty-eight and still quick as a cat! Evicted the squirrel at least for the moment. Had I caught it in the cage I would have driven it a couple of miles away."

He added that he hoped the squirrel is not part of a litter hiding in the attic. I wondered to myself why he didn't just prop a door open and let the squirrel escape on his own just like . . .

Oops, I almost let the cat out of the bag. You're supposed to guess what movie I'm alluding to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful And No

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there in the blogosphere. This week I'm going to do the traditional turkey day blog and list what I'm thankful for this year. But then I'm going to switch gears and expound on what I'm not so thankful for as well.

I'm thankful for . . .

The smiles I get from my grandson Grant. And I'm getting more lately too. I thought he used to hate me. Maybe he's coming around.

Brady Hoke, the new Michigan football coach. Big Ten football has become more respectable in A2 this year thanks to him. A big win over Nebraska last week was particularly "sweet", a favorite word from my number one son's vocabulary. Greg is an usher for the home games in the Big House.

Fantasy football. It's free, it's fun and it's our family coming together from the four winds to participate.

Our local Tim Horton's. Their coffee is good and their assembly line service at the drive-up window is a model for any fast food restaurant anywhere.

My bosses at work. It's not often you get supervisors and managers who are so considerate of their employees and who so value the work they do. And I'm not saying that because they read my blog. They don't (at least I don't think they do).

What I'm NOT thankful for . . .

Commercials on TV. I have a hard time watching shows anymore that have ten minutes of programing and five minutes of commercials. And that seems to be the norm.

Inattentive drivers. Twice this year I was biking across a crosswalk with the "walk" sign when a driver making a left turn nearly blindsided me. If I hadn't been looking out . . . And don't get me started on those folks ahead of me who are on the phone, tuning the radio, or otherwise out to lunch when the green arrow lights up for the traffic to move. And they don't!

My balky computer of late. I know it's probably too many videos and pictures of my grandson on here. But it's also spam, ads, and even this Blogger program that insists I sign on to Google to post my comments, then gives me an error message and wipes out everything I just did. ARRGGGHHHHHH.

Those newfangled corkscrew light bulbs. Sure, they don't use as much energy, because they cast hardly any light. It's like living in a dark cave with those things. Didn't we move beyond cave dwelling a couple hundred thousand years ago?

Cold weather. I just don't understand what God was thinking when he invented cold weather. There just seems to be no need for it in my mind.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Of Those Weeks

They drew names for our family Christmas exchange this past weekend. Since our family is quite scattered around the state, the list of who got whom was e-mailed in a couple different formats.

I got my list from my nephew Gabe who sent it out to everyone in the family. I opened the attachment, then thought I'd have a little fun. Opening my Microsoft Paint program, I changed the list so that it appeared everybody had to buy my nephew Gabe a gift.

Then I attached my newly edited gift list to an e-mail response that I sent back to Gabe and everyone else in the family. In my e-mail I said, "Mine doesn't look right. Did you somehow edit the original list?"

Soon I got Gabe's response, "I just converted the Publisher file to a JPG image file."

He hadn't even opened my newly edited attachment. But I found out later that my dad did open MY gift exchange list INSTEAD of the original correct list that Gabe had sent.

Why would Gabe send out a gift exchange list where everybody buys him a gift, my dad wondered. He thought it strange enough that he called Gabe's dad, my brother Gary. Gary didn't have any explanation either why Gabe would do something like that.

"Your jokes always backfire," Wendy e-mailed me in response to all the trouble I caused.

Yeah, it's just one of those weeks . . . one of those weeks where nothing big happened, but it's the little things that I recall.

On the downside, I receive a lot of mail every day at work, all of which needs to be filed. One packet I get once a month from a worksite about 50 miles away always comes with a little sticky note, some hand-drawn artwork and a message along the lines of "Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Dave."

This has been going on for years. I post the sticky notes on the shelf by my desk to lift my spirits. But now I find out that the author of those notes no longer works at the same institution that I do. Fired? Quit? Nobody says.

On the upside, I gave the garage a thorough cleaning, even taking a half-day off to finish. My last task was getting down on hands and knees and peering underneath my workbench. And there on the grimy, gritty conrete floor it was! Part of a favorite screwdriver I'd lost well over a year ago. I'd always felt it was somewhere on the floor but never could find it despite several tries.

One of life's little victories. And like I said, one of those weeks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where Heroes Lie

Friday is Veteran’s Day. Besides being a federal holiday for my son and sister, it’s a chance for Americans to honor those who have served our country. This day has more meaning for me since I took a bus trip with a group of veterans to Washington DC less than a month ago.

You can’t walk around the Vietnam Wall or the Korean Memorial without being humbled by the sacrifices made by those who served. You can’t walk down the pathways at Arlington Cemetery, past rows and rows of simple white markers, without experiencing some measure of heartfelt gratitude for those who took up arms in defense of liberty.

But I think the most moving moment of our trip occurred away from the statues and well manicured gravesites of the fallen there in DC. Our bus labored through the hills of the Pennsylvania countryside, away from the traffic of the turnpike and the crowds of the cities, ending up in a farm field where a memorial had been set up to honor the passengers aboard Flight 93 which crashed there on 9/11 ten years ago.

The national park service has constructed a visitor's area with a long walkway marking where the plane crashed and burned with a wall at the end honoring each of the passengers by name. Eventually a visitor's center will be constructed on this site as well.

Before we had a chance to get off the bus, a ranger came aboard to recount the story of those 40 heroic passengers who determined to re-take the plane from the hijackers, finally breaking into the cockpit and forcing the terrorist pilot to deliberately crash the plane only 20 minutes flight time from Washington DC.

It was a sad story even if we already knew how it ended. I thought it ironic that our bus had 40 passengers, the same number that flew on that fateful flight. The ranger said that DNA tests positively identified each one of them, something that didn't happen for those dead and missing at the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers. At least the families of those killed in Flight 93 would have some remnant of their loved ones to bury home.

I was surprised at the number of visitors here this October weekday afternoon. But I wasn't surprised that a number of those visitors shed tears as they looked out at the crash site that has long since grown green, with no evidence of the jet that crashed and incinerated while flying 500 miles an hour upside down.

It's more than a memorial, more than a tribute to those people who had been strangers before they were taken prisoner, led to the back of the plane, then voted to put a plan into action which at the very least saved the lives of many innocent victims.

It's where heroes lie.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

BD's House Of Horrors

Trick or treaters approach my doorstep with mixed feelings come Halloween. Some revel in the spooky sights and sounds that surround our two-story suburban colonial on October 31st. For other kids, well, it’s a decision whether or not to chance coming up the walk for a treat.

C’mon. Big Dave’s graveyard of horrors isn’t that bad? A few kids say it’s the best decorated house in the neighborhood. True, parents often get more of a kick out of it than kids. Like the mother who wanted to get a picture of her tyke next to the spider above. He made a BIG circle around the hanging head and the hanging skull before posing with the spider, standing about as close to it as I am to you now.

Then there was another little guy who appeared to have needed some coaxing to come up onto our porch, only making an appearance if his father came up with him. Then I pulled out my ceramic skull, full of treats. His eyes widened, a little terrified of that.

“Say trick or treat,” his dad prodded him.

“Noooooooooooooooo,” he cried, obviously not interested in getting anything that might come out of a ceramic skull.

Another trick-or-treater stopped halfway up the walk, yelling “Shut that music off.” So he wasn’t bothered by the coffin, the gravestone, the multitude of skulls, or the other assorted creepy paraphernalia hanging or stuck in the ground. He didn’t like the mood music playing out of our upstairs window. That was a first. Who wouldn’t like seasonal favorites ranging from the Monster Mash to Mozart’s Requiem?

Eventually, he did come up, followed by his little brother. The littler guy actually felt quite at home surrounded by all things horrific, and sat down on our porch stoop to go through his candy after I delivered his treat. His older brother, still complaining about the music, tried to yank him up by the hood on his hooded sweatshirt. I was worried he might strangle the little guy, but he was rescued by their parents.

Of course, my nephew Mike visited too as he likes to add his own Halloween spice to our own festivities, whether reaching a scary rubber hand out the mail slot or lurking behind me wearing a spooky Michael Jackson mask. After I passed out a round of treats to one group of young girls, Mike came to the door, mask on, holding out bonus treats to one of the girls who had been checking him out with a wary eye.

She briefly pondered his outstretched arm, Mike holding candy clutched in that scary rubber hand. “Enh eh,” she then said, doing a good Bugs Bunny impression as she turned down the candy offer and ran off to join her friends.

Ah, I just love Halloween. And this year A BONUS. A much anticipated visit from our grandson Grant. But he came a little late, and looked pretty worn out. Maybe next year he will be like me and appreciate the holiday more.