Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Story For Grant, Some Day

Our new grandson paid his first visit to our home last Friday. Grant appeared to be comfortable chillin' with his grandpa, grandma and a great aunt as his parents enjoyed a night out (see picture).

Some day I'll be able to tell him stories about his father and his uncle and our little family growing up. Hmmmmm. One of my blogging buddies asked last week for me to recount how Wendy and I met, so maybe I'll start dusting off the cobwebs from memories well over 30 years old now. Then I'll be able to recall again if Grant is curious himself. . . .

These are my recollections, grandson. Grandma Wendy might remember differently but as I always say when somebody challenges something on my blog, "That's how I remember it."

I was in my early 20s thereabouts working out of temporary secretarial pool while taking classes at mighty Michigan. Always remember, Grant, go blue. I was assigned to an office of 50 or so mostly young women on the second story of a commercial building, not a bad job for a young man like me.

Pretty sure the first day I arrived there I saw Wendy, your grandma, dressed in a checkered flannel shirt partially covered by her very long blond hair. She was standing with a delivery dolly there in a hall. She was the back-up courier when she wasn't sitting in front of an IBM Selectric, which is what people typed on before there were computers with keyboards.

I remember this pretty clearly. But grandma Wendy claims she has no recollection of seeing me then. Anyway, when I worked there I was shuffled around to help various people on different projects, though mostly working with the supervisor who initially hired me in. That wasn't Wendy's boss. But your grandma did stop by often as her best friend worked on the team with whom I often worked. I could soon tell that Wendy was the office comedienne, often joking and teasing her colleagues.

One time I remember she challenged one of her co-workers to a typing challenge, badgering her to see how fast she could type. Finally, tired of being pestered by your grandma, the woman interrupted her work to take the challenge. When she finished, she wanted to see how Wendy did with the same test. Your grandma replied, "I don't have time. I'm too busy."

I thought Wendy was the funniest young women I'd ever met. She said she remembers me being a nice guy with dreadfully poor fashion sense. I think some of the clothes I wore back then were handed down to me from my own grandfather--pin-striped slacks, things like that. But they fit and I didn't have to pay for them. So I wore them anyway.

So your grandma would take breaks and lunches with her best friend in the room where I was working. Sometimes I would tell them about myself, about my family in Bay City up north, and about my brother who played in a rock band. After many months, I invited a small group of these women, including Wendy, up north to hear my brother play.

That was a lot of fun. We stayed up very late that night and I had to drive 100 miles back to Ann Arbor to get these women home. Your grandma rode up in the front seat with me the whole time, chatting with me and making sure I didn't get sleepy or tired. She said that I would have to visit her favorite bar in Ypsilanti some time. And I did a couple weeks later, just with your grandma this time. Guess that was our first date, so to speak.

We became good friends, then later our relationship became more serious. And about a year after we took that first road trip to Bay City together, we were walking down the aisle together. A couple years after that, your dad came along.

How did it happen that your dad came along? Well, that's probably a story that your dad himself will want to tell you some day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meeting My Congressman

Happy belated Valentine's Day. Check out the pizza. Heart-shaped! Can you think of a better Valentine's Day present? My wife Wendy got one of these pizzas from her supervisors for a job well done. And she shared it with me. How sweet!

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. In the "I'll do anything for blog material" I went to our Congressman's meet and greet at a local restaurant this past Saturday.

Congressman Tim Walberg, a Republican, lost his seat in the House of Representatives two years ago, but won it back in a hotly contested election this past November. He said it was the most expensive race in the country. I don't doubt it. Gots tons of robo-calls and political flyers at my home, the price of living in a swing district.

So about 30 of his constituents gathered to hear what he had to say and ask a few questions. I'll be honest. I was hoping for a little controversy, maybe some heated exchanges, something newsworthy that I could report here.

But I was disappointed for the most part. When our prior Congressman, a Democrat, tried to have town hall meetings in our district he was roundly booed and heckled to the point where he decided to have his town hall meetings over the phone with little advance notice. Walberg had it easier. When he spoke, it was more like a revival meeting with one or two people repeating key words out loud or just shouting out their agreement.

His message was the one I expected--we need to cut the cost of government and loosen regulations to encourage job growth.

Okay, so I've heard it before. Let's take some questions. One woman said she had several comments that she had written down on a cheat sheet.

"Comment number one . . .

Did you ever have a kid in one of your classes who monopolized the class and teacher's time to the point where you just want to stand up and yell, "Shut up!" That was this lady. I think her first comment had to do with placing a ten-page limit on bills introduced to become law.

Comment number two . . .

But my eyes soon glazed over as she went down her list. I became more interested in checking out the police officer in the front of the room. After what happened to Gabby Giffords in Arizona, our Congressman was bringing along a little security. Walberg said he originally entered Congression with the same freshman class that brought Giffords and recalls her extraordinary fitness, something that is working in her favor as she recuperates from that tragic shooting.

"Comment number four. [pause] Just a minute, I can't read what I wrote here. Let me go on . . .

Comment number six . . . "

Dang, where are those hecklers when you need them?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hum Drum

So I'm having some difficulty coming up with a blog topic this week. Mid-winter blahs, I guess. Not much going on. Even with the weather. Remember, how last week we were under a blizzard warning? It passed us by. We got some snow but not nearly as much as they were predicting. Wendy and I stayed home from work anyway. From what I hear, most of our colleagues were no-shows as well.

The weather not being a good blog topic, I pondered what else has happened this week. Wendy and I did kind of convert a spare bedroom into a nursery. It's a spare-looking nursery right now--a Pack 'n Play, LaZ-Boy recliner and my electric piano is pretty much it. I even dug through my music collection for some kiddie tunes. Think it's important that our new grandson gets exposed to musical instruments, especially since music runs in my family. Check out this photo that my brother-in-law posted on his Facebook:

That picture of me, my brother, my dad and my uncles was taken 23 years ago at my brother-in-law and sister's reception. Wow, no grey hair on any of us!

We did visit our grandson again this past week, but he's still in the vegetable stage. That's entertaining to new grandparents like us but probably not to the public at large. Still, here's a new photo of him, eyes open now.

Since he's nursing, it's not likely we'll be baby-sitting anytime soon. A co-worker related to me an amusing story involving her father's baby-sitting exploits one night. Her youngest stayed with his granddad for a few hours while mom took her older siblings to a circus.

She was nursing her baby as well and made sure he was well fed before dropping him off, but left a can of concentrated formula with her dad "just in case." And as the night unfolded, sure enough, junior got hungry. But her dad being a typical guy, no need to read instructions on the can. Just open and serve. So baby got unmixed, concentrated formula that night. Not quite like what mama makes, I'm sure.

What else is new here? I've been trying to shed a few pounds that have stubbornly dogged me since the holidays. To that end I pulled out our "Sweatin to the Oldies" VCR tape and did aerobics along with Richard Simmons. Is he still around? I've also been keeping a dietary diary, tracking roughly how many calories I consume and making sure it's not too many. I overheard somebody say that a good weight loss plan involves photographing each meal before eating. Hmmmm, I can't see doing that.

Wendy and I did see a fairly good movie yesterday--Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, about a scientist who produces a machine that can produce precipitation of the food variety. Just not the variety of food I should be eating--vegetables and tofu--but instead steaks, cheeseburgers, pasta, ice cream, etc. Probably not the movie I should be watching when I'm a a little hungry. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

I did spend part of the weekend collating all my sales receipts from the past year, figuring that since we bought a car and all, we probably paid gazillions in sales taxes. So maybe I would have lots to itemize on my 1040 and could get a big refund this year. Alas, I discovered that if I claimed the sales taxes I paid last year, I couldn't itemize my state income tax as well. What?? When did this change happen? So much for itemizing my deductions.

*Sigh* I think I need another snow day. Last week needs a re-do.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

On The Cusp Of The Blizzard

I feel as if I’m inside a snow globe, snow showers swirling just outside our bay window. The weatherman has predicted a blizzard for us here in Michigan tonight and this time he may be right. Wendy and I aren’t taking any chances. We’ve already given ourselves a snow day tomorrow, telling our respective bosses not to expect us for work.

There are advantages to being “non-essential” personnel, I guess.

The disadvantage is that I have to pull out the old snow shovel and go to work at home. My back isn’t looking forward to it.

I spotted an army of snowbots gathered in a nearby park. Maybe they’ll come to life like Frosty did and help me get rid of some of this white stuff.

Oh, well. What else can you do in a blizzard besides shovel. I guess I could curl up with a good book. I have two I’m reading during these winter doldrum months: a book on financing my retirement and Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney.

I’m not sure which is scarier. Do I want to have my body invaded and replaced by aliens, or do I want to work through my 60s so that my money doesn’t run out when I’m in a nursing home. I think I’ll take the aliens.

Could do my 2010 taxes if I can come up with some tax forms to file! What’s up with that? Not only do they not mail your federal tax forms anymore, you can’t find them anywhere else. Least I can’t. Maybe alien pod people should take over our government. Make it more efficient. They’ve got my vote.

Before I close tonight, I have to post another obligatory picture of the new grandson, this time in his native Michigan garb.

One of my buddies, a Michigan State fan of course, protested the new baby getting University of Michigan souvenirs:

“Hmm all the UM paraphernalia reminds me that I might need to be proactive and call social services but I'll leave that for another day. Stop scarring the child, he is only in the developmental stages.”

Baby Grant watched the University of Michigan finally beat Michigan State on their own basketball court this past week, something that hadn't happened yet this century. I’m sure that game scarred a few State fans. Now we just have to teach Grant his first words . . . go blue.